David Bawden

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David Bawden
Pope Michael
Papacy beganJuly 16, 1990
Opposed toJohn Paul II
Benedict XVI
OrdinationDecember 11, 2011
by Robert Biarnesen
ConsecrationDecember 11, 2011
by Robert Biarnesen
Personal details
Born (1959-09-22) 22 September 1959 (age 59)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
ResidenceTopeka, Kansas

David Allen Bawden (born September 22, 1959 in Oklahoma City[1]), who takes the name Pope Michael, is an American citizen and a conclavist claimant to the papacy. He stated in 2009 that he had approximately 30 "solid" followers.[2]

Bawden was elected by a group of six laypeople, which included himself and his parents, who had come to believe that the Catholic Church had seceded from the Catholic faith since Vatican II, and that there had been no legitimate popes elected since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958.[3]


In 1975, Bawden and his family began to follow the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Bawden attended the SSPX seminary in Écône, Switzerland, and Saint Joseph's Priory in Armada, Michigan, but was dismissed from the seminary in 1978.[1]

Claim to the papacy[edit]

Bawden believes that all the popes since the death of Pope Pius XII on October 9, 1958, are modernists, heretics, and apostates, and that, therefore, their elections are invalid.[4] He considers them to have incurred latae sententiae, or automatic, excommunication, not so much for violating Pope Pius X's laws,[4] as the laws of God.[5]

Bawden claims to have been elected to the papacy in 1990, in a papal conclave attended by five other people, including his parents.[6] It appears he tried to contact more people to take part.[7]

Media Appearances[edit]

In 2010, independent filmmaker Adam Fairholm created a feature-length documentary, Pope Michael.[8][9]

Bawden was the subject in a chapter of the 2004 book What's the Matter with Kansas? by American journalist and historian Thomas Frank.[4]

In 2019 Pope Michael appeared on the Liz and Christian Present podcast. In this interview Pope Michael reiterated his previous disputes with the current Catholic Church and discussed his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. [10]

Holy Orders[edit]

Bawden was ordained a priest and then consecrated a bishop on December 11, 2011, by an episcopus vagans, Bishop Robert Biarnesen of the Duarte-Costa and Old Catholic episcopal lineages.[11] He thus claims to be able to validly celebrate Catholic sacraments, offer the Mass, ordain other men to the priesthood, and consecrate them as bishops.[12]


  1. ^ a b Brisendine, Steve (30 May 2005). "Despite few followers, 'Pope Michael' holds to beliefs". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  2. ^ Adam Fairholm (Director) (2009). Pope Michael (Online).
  3. ^ [1] Bawden, David. "About." - Vatican in Exile. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <http://vaticaninexile.com/about.php>.
  4. ^ a b c Frank, Thomas (2004). "Antipopes among us". What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Macmillan. pp. 217–224. ISBN 978-0-8050-7339-3.
  5. ^ David Bawden's / Pope Michael's own words on FB, 2. October 2018
  6. ^ Fox, Robin (2011). The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind. Harvard University Press. p. 104. ISBN 9780674059016.
  7. ^ Vatican in Exile FAQ
  8. ^ Coppen, Luke (29 February 2012). "Today's Catholic must-reads". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  9. ^ David Mills (February 28, 2012), "We have a Pope, but not that one", First Things, Institute on Religion and Public Life
  10. ^ "Liz and Christian Present...: Is the Pope Catholic? on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  11. ^ Jarvis, Edward (2018). God, Land & Freedom: the true story of ICAB. Apocryphile Press. p. 169.
  12. ^ Bawden, David. "Validity of The Ordination and Consecration of Pope Michael". Pope Michael. Retrieved 27 March 2019.

External links[edit]