David Bawden

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David Allen Bawden
Pope Michael
Papacy began July 16, 1990
Opposed to John Paul II
Benedict XVI
Personal details
Born (1959-09-22) 22 September 1959 (age 57)
Nationality American

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 post-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, Armada, Michigan, but was dismissed from the seminary in 1978.[1]

Bawden claims to have been elected to the papacy in 1990, in a papal conclave attended by five other people, including his parents.[4]

Claim to the papacy[edit]

See also: Sedevacantism

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.[5] He considers them to have incurred latae sententiae, or automatic excommunication, for violating Pope Pius X's laws.[5]


In 2010, independent filmmaker Adam Fairholm created a feature-length documentary.[6][7] It followed David Bawden, his mother, and a converted seminarian student, Phil Freidl.[citation needed]

Bawden was the subject in a chapter of the 2004 book What's the Matter with Kansas? by American journalist and historian Thomas Frank.[5]


  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).  External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ [1] Bawden, David. "About." - Vatican in Exile. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <http://vaticaninexile.com/about.php>.
  4. ^ Fox, Robin (2011). The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind. Harvard University Press. p. 104. ISBN 9780674059016. 
  5. ^ 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 0-8050-7339-6. 
  6. ^ Coppen, Luke (29 February 2012). "Today's Catholic must-reads". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Fairholm, Adam. ""Pope Michael -- Full Documentary"". Pope Michael Film. Pope Michael Productions, LLC. Retrieved 3 July 2015. 

External links[edit]