Siri Thesis

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Cardinal Siri in 1958, shortly before the conclave

The Siri Thesis is the belief that Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, the long-serving and conservative Archbishop of Genoa, was actually elected Pope in the 1958 papal conclave, but that his election was then suppressed.[1]

By 2006, the Siri Thesis was a fringe belief, thought to be held by hundreds, at most thousands of mostly traditionalist Catholic people.[2] Cardinal Siri himself did not associate himself with this belief.

Reasons for belief[edit]

The followers of the Siri Thesis claim that during the papal conclave of 1958, Cardinal Siri, who was considered the leading conservative candidate, was elected Pope on the first day of the conclave, October 26, and took the pontifical name of Gregory XVII.[3] However, the pro-Siri movement itself quoted Siri as making clear his intention to refuse if elected.[4]

Newspapers the world over carried the Associated Press picture of the white smoke emanating from the Sistine Chapel chimney from 5:55 PM until 6:00 PM on October 26, 1958. White smoke indicates that a Pope has been elected. Vatican Radio also concluded that a Pope had been elected on the third ballot and announced it as such, telling listeners, "The smoke is white... There is absolutely no doubt. A Pope has been elected."[1] However, no Pope appeared, and at 6 PM the smoke changed to black, signaling that no Pope had been elected.[4]

Two days later, the white smoke again rose from the Sistine Chapel, and Angelo Roncalli emerged to become Pope John XXIII. Supporters of the Siri Thesis believe that evidence indicates that Cardinal Siri was elected on October 26 when the white smoke was seen but no Pope emerged on the balcony, and that dire threats against the Cardinals and the Vatican were made during this time, emanating in part from the Kremlin. Some[who?] believe that the pressures included a nuclear threat against the Vatican itself if Siri were not set aside and a more acceptable candidate chosen.[citation needed]

This idea is founded on the outcry against Siri's strong anti-communist stance.

Malachi Martin later said that Siri had been elected as Pope during the Papal conclave, October 1978. He said in March 1997 on Paranet Continuum radio programme Steel on Steel, hosted by John Loefller, that Siri had received a written note after his initial election threatening him and his family with death should he accept.[5] Martin wrote of threats which involved "the very existence of the Vatican state" during a conclave on pages 600–10 of his book The Keys of this Blood. According to Martin, after such threats entered the conclave, progressive factions amongst the cardinals in the conclave, particularly the French cardinals, pressured Siri to step aside, claiming that his strong anti-Communist policies would lead, among other things, to widespread persecution of Catholics in Eastern Europe. Siri would then have accepted this suggestion and stepped aside, rather than having said that he would refuse to serve if elected.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation allegedly claimed that Siri had indeed been elected on the third ballot on October 26, 1958,[2] according to the book The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia by Paul L. Williams on pages 90–92, which cites an FBI document as reference; this document, allegedly declassified, can no longer be found; Williams adamantly refused to comment on why he included the alleged document and reference number in his book, or why the document could no longer be viewed.[6]

According to some Siri theorists, if Siri had resigned, it would have been invalid according to Canon 185 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which states (Canon 188 in the 1983 Code of Canon Law): "Resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself."[7] Additionally, decades earlier Pope Leo XIII proclaimed: "When all that we have thus far described has been done [the precise laws of a conclave have been followed], he who is elected is Pope, in all right and justice, and no man can in any way call his election in question or endeavor to invalidate it. He governs the Church from that moment, and no other act is required to give him further authority. Some, it is true, assert that the coronation is in some way necessary to the perfection of the election. However, this ceremony is by no means essential, for we find that Clement V threatens with excommunication those who assert that bulls issued before the coronation are not binding." [8]


A small group of traditional Catholics rejects the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and in some circles this rejection extends even to the validity of the post-Council Popes themselves; in their view, Pope Pius XII was the "last true Pope."[2]

A branch of sedevacantists, adherents of the thesis, who are also known as Sirianists to adversaries of the Thesis, also consider that John XXIII and the official popes are antipopes, while Siri reigned as the suppressed head of the Catholic Church until his death in 1989.[2] However, unlike in historical antipope disputes, Siri never publicly claimed to be Pope or questioned the validity of the papacies of John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I or John Paul II. The Sirianists hold that Siri was under constant surveillance and under a constant death threat and thus was forced to remain silent for fear of his life.[9]


Sirianism appears to be a major feature in what has been termed sedeimpeditism, which is distinguished from sedevacantism in that sedeimpeditists do not believe that the Holy See is vacant (sede vacante), but rather that a real legitimate Pope existed, but that he was impeded by outside forces (sede impedita) from taking his office.

Because some sedeimpeditists are even today not sedevacantists, some of them believe that, Gregory XVIII, a true Pope in the Siri line still exists somewhere in the world today, and thus they are also distinguished from conclavists, who are sedevacantists who took the next step and decided to elect their own Pope.[10] A number of groups have attempted this step, including a group in Kansas, USA, who recognise David Bawden as Pope Michael I in 1990, and a group around (the late) Elizabeth Gerstner. However, even if the Siri Thesis were correct, these supposed elections would still not be valid according to Canon Law, which reserves the right to elect the Pope to the electors of the College of Cardinals. Hence, sedeimpeditists believe that the real papal succession would have to be preserved, most likely by a network of underground cardinals and bishops.

Sedeimpeditists who accept the Siri Thesis believe that Giuseppe Siri was the "Pope in Exile" long prophesied by Catholic saints[11][page needed] during what they view as the current "Eclipse of the Church", as allegedly predicted by Our Lady of La Salette in 1846 (a vision approved by the Church). However, it may be asked whether Siri was truly in exile, as he continued to serve as Archbishop of Genoa and never questioned the validity of the known Popes. Siri was also known to be friends with John XXIII, although he did reportedly loathe Paul VI.

Although some sedeimpeditists may not agree with the Siri Thesis, or at least consider it as only one of a number of possibilities, they are in overall agreement with sedevacantists that starting with (usually) John XXIII, the civil structure of the Catholic Church has been controlled by heretics who could not possibly be Popes, and that there were enough modernist heretic cardinals to prevent real Catholics from undoing the revolution.


The authoritative biography of Cardinal Siri by Raimondo Spiazzi and other Italian biographers do not even mention the newspaper article.[12] Hutton Gibson, who was a one time cautious supporter of the Siri Thesis, rejected the belief and asserted it was based largely on a mistranslation of an Italian newspaper article.[2][13] The change of white to black smoke was recorded by Silvio Negro for the evening edition of Corriere della Sera (Milan, Italy) on 27 October.[2] However, Negro, Gibson contends, was actually discussing an occurrence at the 1939 conclave in one key paragraph in the article.[2] Gibson's assertion has been itself disputed by supporters of the Thesis.[14][15][16]

The Siri thesis was first promoted by Gary Giuffre in four installments of 'Exile of the Pope Elect'. At that time it was theorized that Siri was elected in the 1963 (not 1958) conclave and in both 1978 conclaves. Giuffre alleges it was revealed by Siri himself in Rome in June 1988 to a traditional priest from Vietnam, that following the death of Pius XII that he was elected at the October 26, 1958 conclave and chose the name Gregory XVII.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Giuffré, "Comments on the Eclipse of the Church and October 26, 1958", Real news 24/7 .
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moynihan 2006.
  3. ^ Giuffré 2006.
  4. ^ a b "The Pope in Red". 
  5. ^ Loeffler, John (March 1997), The Wisdom of Malachi Martin, Soquel: Radio Liberty .
  6. ^ Williams, Paul L. (May 1, 2003). The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia. Prometheus Books. p. 90-92. ISBN 978-1591020653. 
  7. ^ Code of Canon Law, The Holy See, 1983 .
  8. ^ The Life and Acts of Pope Leo XIII: Preceded by a Sketch of the Last Days of Pius IX and the Origin and Laws of the Conclave, edited by Fr. Joseph Edward Keller, pg. 201, Imprimatur 1879
  9. ^ "The Pope in Red". 
  10. ^ "In Today's Catholic World". 
  11. ^ Dupont, Yves (1971), Catholic Prophecy, Tan .
  12. ^ Spiazzi, Raimondo (1990), Il Cardinale Giuseppe Siri, Bologna: Studio Dominicani .
  13. ^ Hutton 2006.
  14. ^ "Rebuttal I", Eclipse of the Church .
  15. ^ "Rebuttal II", Eclipse of the Church .
  16. ^ "Rebuttal III", Eclipse of the Church .


Promoting the Siri Thesis[edit]

Against the Siri Thesis[edit]