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Conclavism is the claim to election as pope by a group acting or purporting to act in the stead of (i.e., under an assumption of the authority ordinarily vested in) the established College of Cardinals.[1] This claim is usually associated with the claim, known as sedevacantism, that the present holder of the title of pope is a heretic and therefore not truly pope, as a result of which the faithful remnant of the Catholic Church has the right to elect a true pope.[2]

The term comes from the word "conclave", the term for a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, when that see is vacant, but which proponents of conclavism apply to the group that elects an antipope.

A similar but distinct phenomenon is that of those (referred to as "mysticalists") who base their claim to the papacy on supposed personal supernatural revelations.


The phenomenon of sedevacantism developed in the late 1960s and the 1970s, the years that followed the Second Vatican Council. In the mid-1970s, the sedevacantist pioneer Father Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga of Mexico advocated holding a papal election, and some other traditionalist Catholics discussed the idea in the following years.[1] However, conclavism became an actual movement only in the 1990s.

The first to claim (in 1978) to have been elected Pope in this way was the Croatian, Mirko Fabris,[1] a stand-up comic who performed under the jocose name "Krav" (a masculinization of the feminine noun krava, meaning "cow") and who accordingly called himself Pope Krav I.[3]

Meant more seriously was the claim of David Bawden, who in the late 1980s promoted the idea of a papal election and ultimately sent out over 200 copies of a book of his to the editors of all the sedevacantist publications he could find, and to all the priests listed in a directory of traditionalists as being sedevacantists.[4] He was then elected by a group of six people who included himself and his parents, and took the name "Pope Michael".[5]

Conclavism claimants to papacy[edit]

  • Pope Krav I. Mirko Fabris, elected in 1978 in Zagreb, Croatia, died in 2012.[1]
  • Pope Michael (1990). In 1990, Teresa Stanfill-Benns and David Bawden of Kansas in the USA, called for a conclave to elect an antipope. They publicised their request around the world, but only six people participated in the election. On July 16, 1990, the six gathered in Belvue, Kansas, and elected Bawden who took the name Pope Michael.[1][6]
  • Pope Linus II (1994). Another conclave, this time held in Assisi, Italy, elected the South African Victor von Pentz, an ex-seminarian of the Society of St Pius X, as Pope Linus II in 1994. Linus took up residence in Hertfordshire, England.[1][7][8]
  • Pope Pius XIII (1998-2009). In October 1998, the U.S.-based "true Catholic Church" elected Friar Lucian Pulvermacher as Pope Pius XIII. He died November 30, 2009. No successor has been named since.[1][8]
  • Pope Leo XIV (2006-2007). On 24 March 2006 a group of 34 episcopi vagantes elected the Argentine Oscar Michaelli as Pope Leo XIV. On his death on 14 February 2007, he was succeeded by Juan Bautista Bonetti, who took the name of Pope Innocent XIV, but resigned on 29 May 2007. He was succeeded by Alejandro Tomás Greico, who took the name of Pope Alexander IX.[1][8]
  • Pope Boniface Atticus I (2016). A conclave located in rural Minnesota decided to elect their own pope to offset the issues they saw as irreconcilable with the Catholic Church. In the model of the "True Catholic Church", a pope was elected to usher in a new era of traditional "Bible Catholicism" (or "Full Circle Catholicism") that was seen as stripped from the Roman Catholic Church in the events during and after Second Vatican Council.


Technically distinct from the conclavism claimants are the "popes" (sometimes called "mysticalists") whose claims to the papacy derive from alleged divine revelations or apparitions. In these cases, there is no "conclave" process.

Alleged divine appointment was the basis for the pre-Vatican II (1950) claim of Michel Collin (1905–1974) to the papacy as Clement XV.[9][10] Collin's sect survives, divided into different factions, to this day.

Mysticalist claimants[edit]

As can be seen, several of the mysticalists in the following list have styled themselves Pope Peter II, a name that has apocalyptic connotations in view of the "prophecy of Saint Malachy".

See also[edit]


External links[edit]