David Bawden

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David Bawden
Pope Michael
David Allen Bawden (Pope Michael I).jpg
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 61)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
ResidenceTopeka, Kansas
Ordination history
Diaconal ordination
Ordained byRobert Biarnesen
DateDecember 11, 2011
Priestly ordination
Ordained byRobert Biarnesen
DateDecember 11, 2011
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byRobert Biarnesen
DateDecember 11, 2011

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 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.[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 because of the changes of Vatican II.[4] He considers them to have incurred latae sententiae, or automatic, excommunication, not so much for violating Pope Pius X's laws on modernism,[4] as the laws of God.

Bawden says he was elected to the papacy in 1990, in a papal conclave attended by five other people, including his parents.[5] Bawden had tried to contact many independently ordained bishops in order to show up for the election, but out of the hundreds of them that he messaged or sent info packages to, none came to the election.[6]

Media appearances[edit]

In 2010, independent filmmaker Adam Fairholm created a feature-length documentary, Pope Michael.[7][8]

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]

Holy orders[edit]

Bawden was 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 although it is unknown whether proper form was used in the solo ordination and consecration.[9] Bawden claims that he is able to validly confect Catholic sacraments, offer the Mass, ordain other men to the priesthood, and consecrate them as bishops as the Duarte-Costa and Old Catholic lineages are valid in the eyes of the Church.[10]


  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. ^ "Pope Michael" - Full Documentary, retrieved 2021-03-24
  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. ^ Fox, Robin (2011). The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind. Harvard University Press. p. 104. ISBN 9780674059016.
  6. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions - Vatican in Exile". Vatican in exile. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  7. ^ Coppen, Luke (29 February 2012). "Today's Catholic must-reads". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  8. ^ David Mills (February 28, 2012), "We have a Pope, but not that one", First Things, Institute on Religion and Public Life
  9. ^ Jarvis, Edward (2018). God, Land & Freedom: the true story of ICAB. Apocryphile Press. p. 169. ISBN 9781947826908.
  10. ^ Bawden, David. "Validity of The Ordination and Consecration of Pope Michael". Pope Michael. Retrieved 27 March 2019.

External links[edit]