Is a Papal Election Possible?

For those of you, who do not know me, I am David Bawden. For the moment, let it suffice, that I have studied into Canon Law for some eight years on my own. Sometime in the future, if anyone really wishes it, I will happily provide a complete history of myself.
Rather, than attempt to answer the question I have posed, I should like to discuss the more practical matters of seeking the information necessary to answer this question. However, I will provide some brief quotes from the letter, that prompted me to consider this course as possible, and my answer. (name of author of the letter to me withheld, at his implicit request)
After a long discussion of St. Thomas on the application of law (Summa II-II Q 96, Art 1 and Q 120 Art 2) The writer states the following conclusion: “Such a law (that is hurtful to the faithful, if applied in our present situation) is Canon 953, which states that episcopal consecration is reserved to the Roman Pontiff. Hence, no bishop is allowed to consecrate another bishop unless he is certain that he has a papal mandate. Obviously the authors of the law presumed that there would always be a true Pope who could perform this function until the end of time, and they never conceived of anything else. Otherwise they would never have written a law which could jeopardize the survival of the Catholic Church. …”
And I answered, “But, first let me put forth a proposition. I shall first lay some ground work. I still maintain the binding force of many of the Canon Laws. True priests and bishops are limited in their ability to function. I think I may have a solution to their problem. They have been going about it all wrong. The current extra-canonical operation is disastrous, regardless of what we think of the binding force of the laws broken. (by their fruits you shall know them!) This is due to the disillusion of the UNITY of the Church. That unity, according to our Catechism, comes from the Papacy. Rather than ministering to the faithful, outside the letter of the law, maybe they should restore the Unity of the Papacy. … Basically what we have now in these priests and bishops are chickens with their Head (Pope) cut off. We need to perform surgery to restore that Head.” I would quote in more length, but that is not my purpose here. This matter can be more fully discussed in the future.
In addition to my own conclusion, that an election is possible, I have run into several others, who have independently come up with the same conclusion. Since God is apparently inspiring more active investigation of this matter, I propose, that someone act as a clearing house for information, pro and con on this important questions. (Any volunteers?) What I am asking first off, is your permission to release your name to this clearing house.
Why a clearing house? First the information we need is hard to find. Secondly it is useless for several people to do the same research. This clearinghouse could receive copies of all pertinent information and pass it along to other concerned Catholics. Also discussion of the important questions related to the election could be discussed in a semi-public forum.
What do I see this clearing house as doing, more specifically? I see its functions as follows:
1. Receive ‘members’, who would be willing to perform active research, and to provide copies of the pertinent decrees, etc.
2. Receive ‘members’, who are interested in praying for the election of the Pope, and participating in said election but who have no ability to do the research for what ever reason.
3. Publish a newsletter of sorts, to keep interested Catholic up to date on the various information developed.
4. Allow ‘members’ doing similar research to get in contact with each other and pool their information and reasoning on the various questions
When I say ‘members’, I simply use that is a term to designate Catholics interested in pursuing the election of a Pope, if that proves possible. Obviously all members of the Catholic Church are ‘members’ of such a movement, if it is truly God’s will. I am simply designating those, who are actually active in this endeavor. Any such movement, must be dedicated to the Truth, even if that requires us to disband this very movement!
As a preliminary, I see the following questions as important:
1. Can the laity elect a Pope?
2. Are there any clergy left in the Church? If so, is the election exclusively the province of Faithful clergy?
3. Can clergy and laity under sentence of excommunication, latae sententiae, participate in a Papal election? Can suspended clerics participate?
4. Who are qualified to participate in an imperfect council?
5. What may such a Council discuss?
6. Who should be called to the Council?
Please feel free to forward this letter to other interested parties. Again I recommend prayer to the Holy Ghost and prudence in pursuing these matters. May His will be done!

March 28, 1988 Dear Friends in Christ,

I have been asked by several to comment on some of the Canonical considerations in a Papal Election. The articles I am preparing will give some general observations of mine, together with some canonical considerations.
One of the reasons I am strongly supporting this movement, is the fact, that there are numerous questions today. To many of these questions one can only answer, this may only be answered by the Pope, or this problem must be submitted to someone with jurisdiction. Even the question of jurisdiction must be answered with authority, as there are many theories going around; theories some of which I consider dangerous to the Faith. However, who can answer? Only the Pope! But we have not Pope! Well, as far as I can see, we can and must elect one. Consecrating still more bishops, ordaining more priests, writing more newsletters and founding yet more Catholic institutions will not solve any of our problems. Only filling the void in the Church will; electing a pope is supreme necessity. If this election should for some reason prove impossible, then I am certain, that the horns announcing the end of the world will blow very soon!

I pray, that the articles that follow will contribute positively to the upcoming election and dispel some questions. The road ahead is rough and untraveled, however nothing ventured, nothing gained. Shall we as loyal Catholics sit by and do nothing, as many Conciliarists and Traditionalists destroy the Church we love? Or shall we as the Church militant stand up and do something? Only you can answer what you will do. Remember, that you will have to make account before the judgement seat of God. I must account for my actions, and you, yours. Are you ready to make that accounting? May God bless and guide us in this endeavor,

Yours in Christ the King,

What Should We Do Now?

1. Pray to the Holy Ghost to guide this election and the Pope so elected. Pray that he shall be a saint.

2. Make yourself a saint! Only by becoming saints can we ever hope to lead others to sanctity. I do not mean this holier than thou attitude of many Traditionalists, but true sainthood. Sainthood, which is like unto a St. Francis or a St. Charles Borromeo to name only two.

3. Make the Profession of Faith. This should be done in the presence of two Catholic witnesses and signed by all parties.

4. If you have publicly disseminated heresy or error in any manner whatsoever, attempt to repair this by renouncing the heresy or error in-a public manner. (You may also wish to abstain from the actual election.)

5. Write to someone involved actively in putting this election together. Tell them that you shall accept the jurisdiction of the new Pope so elected. If, however, you are not convinced of the absolute necessity of this election, study and prove why it should not take place and be prepared to defend your position, but be open to study the information put forth by those of us in favor of the election. Search for the Truth is absolutely necessary for ALL of us. If we deny the revealed truth, we shall surely burn in Hell. You are obliged to correct us if we are wrong, or follow the Pope elected if we are right.

6. Study the Faith! Study the Laws of the Church. Be prepared to be a real help to the new Pope. Be prepared to help the new hierarchy, the successors of the First Apostles. The new hierarchy faces a challenge similar to that of Peter and the Apostles.

7. Write a short history of your life in the Church, so that others may know what has happened to you during the Great Apostasy. (Please include any details of heresy, so that this shall not become an embarrassment to you later)

My dear clergy; What I have to ask of you may be a hard saying. I have several reasons for making my requests of you. Christ has given all of us many hard sayings, and we must be willing to accept anything that comes from Him. (I am not making any claim to, speak for Christ, Only the Pope and those He appoints who have the proper jurisdiction can make that claim. However Christ has used defective instruments before. Investigate to determine what I say comes ultimately from him for the good of the Church.)

“The laity has the right to receive from the clergy the spiritual goods and especially the necessary means of salvation, ACCORDING TO THE RULES OF ECCLESIASTICAL DISCIPLINE”, Canon 682. From this canon, I apply the other Canons of the Code to make my requests. Although the principles of Epikeia; Canon 209 or Canon 2261 paragraph 2 may permit a laxer view of the situation, I believe a stricter interpretation is in the interest of the common good. The interest of the common good is one of the tests of a genuine law. By providing these spiritual goods on the edge of the law, you may encourage a complacency in the laity, when action by ALL Catholics is of tantamount importance. Remember by Sacred

Ordination you have become ministers of Christ with awesome responsibilities. Do not take your position lightly. Live up to what Christ expects of you.

I ask all priests and bishops to cease ALL ministering to the Faithful of the Sacraments and sacramentals with only a few exceptions; which I shall enumerate. The question of whether Canon. 209 provides jurisdiction in the wide manner now claimed by many of you is a question. which ONLY a Pope can infallibly decide. However ALL Catholics are obliged to be ABSOLUTELY certain of the validity of a Sacrament before receiving it. By the reasoning set forth in my paper, Jurisdiction During the Great Apostacy, I find at best that these Confessions without ordinary or delegated jurisdiction are doubtfully valid, and therefore to be avoided. (It may very well prove to be a heretical assertion, that jurisdiction is not required to absolve a person from sins.) I shall not attempt to cover my belief of the administration of all of the Sacraments, but will if asked to do so. The exceptions to the above are:

1. “In danger of death all priests,…, can validly and licitly absolve any penitent from any sins or censures,…”, Canon 882. Please administer Absolution in this case.

2. Ordinaries return to your diocese and retake possession, if you have been unjustly removed. Of course, please check to be sure. that you received this office from the Pope and not one of the recent impostors. Ordinaries, please exercise your office within your territory for the benefit of the Church.

3. Pastors, return to your parish and retake possession. Exercise your pastoral office within your parish, as required by canon Law. Again, be sure you received your office from a true Ordinary, who was still in valid possession of his office. The proper use of Canon 209 may provide the jurisdiction for you to have validly received an office, even after Vatican II. Be absolutely certain you possess the office before exercising it!

4. Those of you. who have faculties for a certain area may use those faculties, but only within the territory for which you possess them. Please govern yourself accordingly. Again, Canon 209 may provide the jurisdiction for you to have validly received a faculty even after Vatican II. Be absolutely certain you possess the faculty before using it!

5. Those of you ordained after 1965 please cease and desist ALL clerical function. With a few rare exceptions you were not ordained within the Catholic Church, and She considers you as laymen for ALL canonical effects. Please submit your case to the new Pope, who I am sure shall have mercy on you. Canon 209 may provide the jurisdiction necessary for you to have been ordained within the Church. However be absolutely certain you were so ordained before proceeding to administer any Sacrament or sacramental. (Anyone ordained after 1968, by Lefebvre, Schukhardt, Thuc or his bishops was ordained outside the Church.)

6. Any of you who have incurred a latae sententiae censure, please observe the restrictions placed on you by Canon Law. (You may also wish to abstain from voting in the election.)

7. Those of you who have accepted consecration as bishop, please cease ALL clerical operations. It is probable that you are in fact excommunicated. Please submit your case to the new Pope, who shall have to decide this and many other serious matters.

8. Please be prudent in administering the Sacraments and sacramentals to the Faithful. They do need some of the Sacraments, but they need the leadership of a Pope first. (There are a few exceptions; absolution in danger of death, private baptism and marriage without nuptial blessing)

9. Make a one month private retreat of prayer and reflection! (Actually ALL Catholics need this. In fact this might not be a bad preparation for the election,)

Now I have some requests of the laity. Included here are those, who validly received orders outside the Church. You are laymen, canonically, as well:

1. Understand, that with few exceptions clerics are operating on the edge of the law and in some cases violating the law. (They may not realize this, as there is none in authority to correct them.) Remember cooperation in another’s sin is a sin itself, even if they are in good faith. Do not ask for what they should not give you.

2. Support the faithful clergy, expecting nothing from them but their prayers. Only the new Pope can give them a job in the Church, unless they currently possess an office in the Church. You have the right and obligation to ask them to prove. that they possess the office they are exercising or the jurisdiction they need for what they are doing.

3. Offer up the temporary loss of the Mass and Sacraments to God for the shortening of this sede vacante.

We should pray and work for this election. This election will not provide an immediate cure for all of our problems. However, the new Pope will begin the rebuilding of the Church that is so desperately needed. Therefore I request all of us to obey him, when he is elected. We may counsel him if we are in a position to do so; but above all obedience is necessary. (Obedience in all things but sin, of course.) Some of the demands of the new Pope may be hard for us, but we must obey, for in this obedience is our salvation. To prepare for this we need to obey the laws handed down to us by Peter’s successor and inspired by the Holy Ghost. (i.e. the 1917 Code of Canon Law.) My requests above are based on this reasoning.


We have discussed who may vote. However what are the requirements to be Pope? Any male Catholic with sufficient use of reason to govern the Church can be validly Elected Pope. However should’ we look for other qualifications. We certainly do not want a repeat of John XXIII. I should like to give some personal observations.

The man we elect as Pope must be a saint! We all should be saints, but the problems facing the new Pope will require the wisdom of a saint. I am looking for the following:

1. A man who has stood up for the truth regardless of cost, even if it meant loss of position, money, fame, etc. A man-who will stand up for the truth, at ALL cost to himself will stand up to those in the Church, who wish to further themselves and not the Faith.

2. A man who has studied the Faith and is knowledgeable in it. I find some in the Laity more knowledgeable than the average priest, who has forgotten many of his studies. Especially to be admired is the man who did these studies without help. There are several of these men around, who have struggled for every shred of the truth they learned. Such stamina is to be admired, and prepares one for the work of the Pope.

3. Canon Law requires bishops to have mature age, experience in the practical administration of temporal and spiritual affairs, Sound Catholic Doctrine, good conduct and piety; and be of sound manners and health.

I personally expect the next Pope to come from the laity, as will many of the new cardinals. Our Church problems began in the clergy, as has every heresy to my knowledge. Even today, many of the clergy spread error amongst the faithful; even Traditionalist clergy. Note that none, of the 12 Apostles came from the Jewish priesthood. They were fishermen, and such like. The laity formed the core of the Church in the time of Christ, and I believe that members of the laity will lead the Church out of this current crisis.

Think well before casting your vote in the election. This is NOT a time for electioneering, but for selecting that man most capable of filling the shoes of Peter! Look not only to the clergy, but to the laity for that man. Canon Law provides for the ordination and consecration of the new Pope should he not possess the requisite Orders upon election.

Who May Vote?

This is indeed an important question. Who may vote? How can we determine someone’s eligibility to vote? What. laws bind, and what have rendered themselves inoperative? Before I answer these questions, I would like to make a few simple statements. First ALL laws capable of being fulfilled must be obeyed. This includes provisions of Pius XII’s decree on Papal Elections that can any fulfilled. (Does anyone have this in translation?) The majority of Canon Laws have NOT rendered themselves inoperative, despite some people’s contention to the contrary. The few that do have by the very nature of this Apostasy rendered themselves inoperative by impossibility. (For example, the requirement to assist at Mass on Sundays in a Church or public oratory. This is impossible; therefore the law does not bind.)

In my opinion the majority of Traditionalists regularly violate the law and will probably be too lenient in its interpretation in this case, as they are in others. We must be extremely careful how we proceed, or else we shall produce not a true Pope, but a worse antipope, than JPII, Clemente or Lefebvre. (True; Lefebvre does not claim to be Pope, but he usurps Papal jurisdiction regularly)

Who may vote? Pius XII limited the election of a Pope to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church. To my knowledge no cardinals remain. (If one did, he would be sole elector of the Pope) They have all en masse apostatized. (Canon 188 paragraph 4 provides that all heretics and apostates lose their offices in the Church. Cardinal and Pope are offices in the Church.) Is there any precedent for an election without Cardinals? If so, who then is qualified? For the first 1,000 years of the Church the people and clergy of Rome elected the Pope. It wasn’t until Gregory X (1271-1276), that Papal election was reserved exclusively to the Cardinals. It is therefore my opinion that the election may be performed by the members of the Church. It is not in any way reserved to the clergy. All of the Faithful are therefore entitled to vote.

Who then are the Faithful ‘Who is still in the Church’ What about the many crimes committed and censures incurred some members of the Faithful. These questions are most important, as ALL qualified electors must be summoned. (A reasonable effort is required, and the failure to contact a qualified elector will not invalidate the election, as long as all reasonable means are used) All of the Faithful, even those under censure must be summoned and can vote, except vitandi.

The following are forbidden to vote:

1. All unbaptized people, including catechumens.

2. All Apostates, heretics and schismatics.

3. All vitandus excommunicates, but not other excommunicates. (All decrees to my knowledge admit the validity of Papal elections where excommunicates participate.)

4. All insane people.

5. All those under 14 years of age, and those not possessing the use of reason.

Excommunicates and those under suspension may vote. However they are admonished to observe the effects of the censure in ALL of their other activities as required by Canon Law. It might be wise for them to refrain for voting, but they may if they wish and we may not forbid them.

Now to some practical recommendations:

1. All those wishing to vote should make the Profession of Faith in the presence of two Catholic witnesses and sign the profession in the presence of the two witnesses, who will also sign to testify to the Profession. (This should be required for admission to the place of the election, as proof of membership in the Church)

2. Anyone, who has committed heresy in public should publicly and in writing renounce it, and this should be required for admission to the election, as proof of desire to return to the Church. They must also observe the censure of excommunication.

3. All electors must accept the sede vacante and the jurisdiction of the Pope elected in this election. Such acceptance should be in writing and made by a vow to accept the Pope so elected. (Anyone: who does not have this level of belief should attempt to obtain it or prove why this election should not be held.) After the election all of the electors will have to show their acceptance of this Pope as supreme head of the Church. Before the election begins this vow should be made publicly by all electors individually in the presence of the other electors.

4. Anyone who wishes to vote must not be spreading heresy in any manner, even if they are in good faith. A3 Being material heretics, they are ineligible to vote according to the proper application of Canon 2200, and cannot be admitted.

5. Both Clerics and laymen are permitted to vote, as long as they meet all of the requirements.

To summarize, all Catholics are permitted to vote and we are obliged to take all reasonable means to summon them to the election. None is obliged to attend, and may refuse to attend. Such refusal of their right does not invalidate the election, and they ARE obliged to accept the Pope elected without their participation. (By Catholic is meant all of those in the Church; this does not include Novus Ordo or Sede Occupantists who use the Latin Mass, but those, who accept all of the teaching of the One, Holy, Roman Catholic Church founded by Christ.)