Attired in a black cassock that covered all but the bottom of a pair of red pants and Nike flip-flops, David Bawden on a recent Sunday afternoon reclined on a couch in the living room of his Vatican in Exile, a wooden-frame farm home in southwestern Jackson County, and talked about events that led to what he said was his election as pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
Bawden matter-of-factly reflected on the 21 years that have passed since 1990, when he was voted in as pope by six people who gathered at his parents’ second-hand store in nearby Belvue.
His biggest beef with the Roman Catholic Church, which he said led to his papacy, was its move toward modernism, starting with Vatican II, which included doing away with the traditional Latin Mass.
By now, Bawden has heard the whispers and out-loud criticisms that have come his way since he declared himself the head of the Roman Catholic Church and its 1 billion adherents worldwide.
Yet he remains committed to his papacy, saying it was ordained of God, and that nothing will stop him from being pope…
Bawden in the late 1970s had attended St. Pius X schools but was asked to leave. Despite his efforts to return, he was barred from being a student again.
“There was some infighting in the seminary, and I got in the middle of it,” Bawden said. “I was dismissed because of that.”
While continuing to pursue his vocation, Bawden held fast to his belief that Rome no longer had authority for the Catholic Church, that popes it elected were heretics and therefore the papal position was vacant.
It was Bawden’s belief that if the College of Cardinals wasn’t equipped to elect a pope, the duty fell to laypeople in the church.
Before he staked his claim to the papacy, he outlined his problems with the modern Catholic church in a 1990 book titled “Will the Catholic Church Survive the 20th Century?” He said he wrote the book to appeal to other traditionalists like himself.
After his book was published, he sent notices of an upcoming papal vote to traditionalists around the globe. But only six people showed up for the pivotal vote that took place July 16, 1990.
One was Bawden’s late father, Kennett, who died in 1995. One was his mother, Clara “Tickie” Bawden, 83. One was Bawden himself.
Then there were three others, all of whom, Bawden lamented, since have “fallen away” from the Catholic Church that he leads.
Bawden said he had an inkling he might be voted in as the pontiff that day…