David Bawden

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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, 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, for violating Pope Pius X's laws.[4]

David 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 58)
Nationality American

Bawden claims to have been elected to the papacy in 1990, in a papal conclave attended by five other people, including his parents.[5]


In 2010, independent filmmaker Adam Fairholm created a feature-length documentary.[6][7]

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]

Ordination to the priesthood and consecration as a bishop[edit]

At some point during 2011, Bawden claims he was ordained a priest, and then consecrated a bishop, by an episcopus vagans, and thus claims to be able to validly celebrate Catholic sacraments, offer the Mass, ordain other men to the priesthood, and consecrate them as bishops.[citation needed] The bishop who ordained and consecrated him was Bishop Robert Biarnesen who is from the Duarte-Costa and Old Catholic Lineages.[citation needed]


  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. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Fox, Robin (2011). The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind. Harvard University Press. p. 104. ISBN 9780674059016. 
  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]