|Papacy began||July 16, 1990|
|Papacy ended||August 2, 2022|
|Ordination||December 11, 2011|
by Robert Biarnesen
|Consecration||December 11, 2011|
by Robert Biarnesen
|Born||September 22, 1959|
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||August 2, 2022 (aged 62)|
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
David Allen Bawden (September 22, 1959 – August 2, 2022), who took the name Pope Michael, was an American citizen and a conclavist claimant to the papacy. In 1990 Bawden was elected pope by a group of six laypeople, including himself and his parents, who had come to believe that the Catholic Church had apostatized 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.
In 2011, he was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop by an Independent Catholic bishop.
Early life and education
Bawden's parents were traditionalist Catholics who rejected Vatican II. In the mid-1970s, he and his family became followers of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Bawden entered the SSPX seminary in Écône, Switzerland, in 1977, then transferred to Saint Joseph's Priory in Armada, Michigan. He was dismissed in 1978. His family subsequently moved to St. Marys, Kansas, where the SSPX ran Saint Mary's Academy and College. Bawden worked for the school and his brother attended it. In 1981 Bawden broke with the SSPX. Prior to claiming the papacy, he worked as a real estate agent and furniture maker.
Claim to the papacy
Bawden believed that all the popes since the death of Pope Pius XII on October 9, 1958, were modernists, heretics, and apostates, and that their elections were invalid. He considered them to have incurred latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication for violating not only Pope Pius X's laws on modernism but also the divine laws.
On July 16, 1990, Bawden, his parents, and three other former adherents of the SSPX held a papal conclave at the Bawden family's thrift store in Belvue, Kansas. Bawden, then aged 30, was elected pope. He styled himself "Michael I" after Saint Michael the Archangel. Bawden had invited hundreds of Independent Catholic bishops and sedevacantists to the election, but none attended. As Bawden was not ordained until 2011, he was unable to celebrate Mass or confect the sacraments as a priest.
Later years and death
After the election, Bawden continued living at home with his parents. In 1993 they relocated to Delia, Kansas. His father died in 1995. Bawden established a presence on the internet as an alternative claimant to the papacy; in 2009 he stated that he had approximately 30 "solid followers". He supported himself through donations and by republishing out-of-print religious literature. In 2010, the independent filmmaker Adam Fairholm released a feature-length documentary about him, Pope Michael.
Bawden announced that he had been ordained a priest and then consecrated a bishop on December 11, 2011, by an Independent Catholic episcopus vagans, Bishop Robert Biarnesen of the Duarte-Costa and Old Catholic episcopal lineages. Bawden said that he was able to validly confect Catholic sacraments, offer the Mass, ordain other men to the priesthood, and consecrate them as bishops, since he believed that the Duarte-Costa and Old Catholic lineages were recognized as valid by the Catholic Church.
Rogelio Martinez, a Filipino archbishop in the Catholic Charismatic Church, united himself with Bawden in 2020. In a 2022 interview released posthumously, Bawden said that his church had grown to more than 100 members.
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- #Vatican in Exile [@Francis5Domini3] (July 10, 2022). "Please keep His Holiness Pope Michael in your prayers. He had emergency brain surgery this evening. Blood was found on the brain. For the time being he is being kept in a coma" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- #Vatican in Exile [@Francis5Domini3] (August 3, 2022). "Today at 10:18 Pope Michael passed on into eternity. RIP" (Tweet) – via Twitter.