The Sad Misadventures
Of Theresa Benns & David Bawden...

Prakash J. Mascarenhas.
This article was written in response to the claim of Mr. David Bawden, of Delia, Kansas, USA, to have been elected the pope, taking the name of Pope Michael the First. Mr. Bawden sent me his book, Will The Catholic Church Survive The Twentieth Century?, written together with a Theresa Benns, as being proof and vindication of his claim.

Part I: Alice In Blunderland

One of the first things I had learnt at the time of my conversion, was St. Augustine’s advice to not judge by appearances. He told of how good food can be served in bad dishes while bad preparations can be served in exquisite dishes: the bad vessel did not spoil the good preparation, nor did the good vessel palliate the bad preparation. Therefore, I have not given attention to appearances, choosing to judge by contents.

Nevertheless, there is a proper place for appearances; it cannot be neglected. It is ironical, that the authors (Benns & Bawden) make such a song and dance of studying and then proceed to dish out such a shoddy work. And shoddy it is, full of errors.

Nevertheless, their book is full of valuable information, that throw light on the procedure to be followed to put to an end to the present situation of Sede Vacante - if it has not already been ended.

This however does not detract from the fact that they have erred and erred badly in their work. Allow me to set out the main errors out here:

They set on a project to supply the want of a pope. Have they gone about it rightly? No, they have even violated the very rules they themselves set out.

On pages 99 & 432, they pretend to be promulgating law, a law that by its very nature must, if it were true, bind all.

The Canon they are quoting says 9: "The laws thus promulgated, do not begin to bind in conscience until three months have elapsed after the date of issue of the periodical containing the law."

In doing this, they attempt to usurp the Right and Privileges of the Roman Church.

No layman, whatsoever, has any right to either legislate or bind in conscience the entire Church; that belongs to the legitimate authorities – the Pope and the Holy Roman Church, the first Church from among the churches of the general or Œcumenical Church.

The Authors themselves tell us whether we have any right to do so, on page 432, "...strictly speaking, we cannot decide in Church affairs whatsoever..." And yet they so blithely go forward to ‘PROMULGATE’ a law for the whole Church!

And what is the consequence of this their act?

They themselves tell us, on page 430, Canon 2345: "Persons who usurp or retain, personally or through others, goods and rights pertaining to the Roman Church automatically incur excommunication reserved in a special manner to the Apostolic See."

Because of this, the very project, carried out in haste, without giving an opportunity for fraternal correction (as if the authors were moreover infallible!) is fatally flawed and did not, could not, result in the election of a valid pope.

Then they go further to implicitly declare (Pages 258 – 260) those ‘pre-Vatican 2’ Canonists as EXCOMMUNICATES who according to THE AUTHORS’ interpretation, contradict Divine Law. This is once again an usurpation of the rights of the Church, by mere laymen, and without any authority of their own!

The authors make such a song and dance of the alleged violation of the Law by the priests of the Resistance, but then they themselves are guilty of the same! For on page 445, they say that ‘any priest who possesses jurisdiction for confessions somewhere in the world can absolve us from our sins (according to Canon 883), provided he travels by boat or plane to the place of election.’ How can that be? Canon 883, as they show it on page 222, says, "On an ocean voyage (extended to plane travel by Pope Pius 12), all priests may hear confessions during the time of the voyage and absolve the faithful who travel with them (even though the boat may pass through districts subject to various ordinaries or stop for awhile in some port), PROVIDED THEY HAVE BEEN PROPERLY APPROVED FOR CONFESSIONS, EITHER BY THE BISHOP OF THEIR OWN DIOCESE, OR BY THE BISHOP OF THE PORTS WHERE THEY TAKE THE BOAT, OR BY THE ORDINARY OF ANY OF THE PORTS AT WHICH THE BOAT CALLS. Whenever the boat stops at a port during the voyage, such a priest may hear confessions and absolve not only people who for any reason enter the boat, but also if the priest goes ashore for awhile, persons who request him to hear their confessions, and he may absolve them even from sins reserved to the local ordinary."

So, without the faculties from a legitimate bishop for such a mission, how can such a priest do as the authors desire? And by making such a request, despite knowing all the facts, they attempt to make priests sin, a grave crime.

More Errors

In my first letter to David Bawden after my first reading of this book, I pointed out some dangerous errors in it, to which errors I am hyper-sensitive due to my personal history.

On page 472, they state, ‘... the New Jerusalem reigns elsewhere... No longer will Rome be the seat of the papacy... We believe that first Rome’s spiritual dominion over true Catholics will be destroyed...’

These are unacceptable statements.

It is Catholic Doctrine, that the papacy is fixed at Rome for all time till the return of Christ, that the Roman Church possesses Indefectibility, and that the Roman Church cannot be ever entirely destroyed...

Years ago, I had taken the initiative to get in touch with the putative pope Gregory 17 of Palmar de Troya, in the hope to find the true pope, if he existed, but rejected this claimant (of Palmar de Troya) because he was not elected but claimed to be appointed in an ‘apparition’... and, additionally, because he had heretically declared that the seat of the papacy was now permanently shifted to Palmar, so that the true pope would no longer be the ROMAN Pontiff, but the Palmarian Pontiff.

Benns & Bawden fall into the same error.

Does ‘Pope Michael’ claim to be the Roman Pontiff or the Delian Pontiff? The latter, going by the quotation above.

I can give proofs galore to support my belief, but I will restrict myself to the bull Unam Sanctam, (see page 265 in the authors’ book) which says, "... we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature, that they, by necessity for salvation, are entirely subject to the ROMAN Pontiff." (Dz. 469)

Amen, the ROMAN Pontiff, not the Palmarian or Delian or Whatsoeverian Pontiff.

This again, was the gist of my dispute with a priest in the U.S.A.

There is a further error to be found in this book. The authors state, on page 472, ‘... the battle fought in heaven between the dragon, Roncalli, and St. Michael...’ So, Roncalli was in heaven? And when was that? Before his conception, when, according to Catholic theology, God created his soul, or sometime after that? This is the utterest nonsense that the authors utter anywhere in this book.

Ecclesia Supplet:

The authors claim that the appeal to ‘Ecclesia Supplet’ by the traditionalists does not work because there is no Pope, and according to them, the Pope is who supplies.

Then later, they invoke this same principle to support their election of a pope by lay election. I ask, how?

If Ecclesia Supplet cannot be invoked for one man, because there is no pope, it even more holds true for those attempting the lay election of a pope – no Pope, no can supply; but if have Pope, will not supply (for an additional ‘pope’). Cruel Irony.

Part II - An Open Appeal

To Mr. David Bawden – the Non-Pope.

Dear Sir, - It is with deep grief that I must turn away from yet another claimant to the papacy as not being it. I have here given the reasons why YOU are not IT. Believe me, I take no pleasure in this. I hope and pray that you will be able to agree with the reasons that I have set out.

We are required to seek the truth with absolute fidelity and honesty, making no compromise with the essentials of the faith. It is in this spirit that I reject your claim.

I hereby call on you, as presumably, one Christian brother to another, presuming that you have not gone so far as to irrevocably separate yourself from the truth by your errors, to return to the true faith by admitting your mistakes and that you have not attained to the papacy. This is necessary to ensure the salvation of your soul, which I presume is what you desire. Even a pope must save his soul. It is only false pride and shame that will keep you from returning to Christ, and in that, there is no profit.

If you return, it is possible that you may someday be truly and properly be elected pope, given that the vacancy has not already been otherwise filled.

Yours, hopefully, in Christ Jesus,

Prakash J. Mascarenhas, Bombay, India.

Part III - Papal Indefectibility vs. Roman Indefectibility

The website of ‘pope Michael’ posts an article, by a Frenchman, Jean Andre Perlant, that claims that the Vatican Council (1869-1870) defined Papal Indefectibility, putting to an end the debate about whether a pope could err into heresy and thus becoming a heretic, either automatically lose office, or need to be deposed from office. See here for Bawden's version of the article, and here for mine.

I wish to merely ask this: If this is so, then how did the debate continue after 1870? It is one thing to posit that the Modernist heresy, exposed and condemned by Pope St. Pius the Tenth, went underground, becoming occult, and another to say that heresy flourished openly and was not denounced and acted upon by the Magisterium from 1870 to 1958...

I have taken off my rebuttal of Perlant to a new page, at Contra-Perlant.

Praising The Good Things Found In This Book

I have taken off this section to another page, at bawden.html.
See here for my first letter to Bawden, subsequent to the receipt of the book intended as proof of his claim to be the pope, and his reply.