The Siri Thesis is the belief that Giuseppe Cardinal 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 believed to be held by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, mostly in Traditionalist Catholic circles.[2]

A branch of sedevacantists, adherents of the thesis, who are also known as Sirianists to adversaries of the Thesis, also believe that John XXIII and his officially-recognized successors (Paul VI, 1963-78; John Paul I, 1978-78; John Paul II, 1978-2005; and Benedict XVI, 2005 to ?) are antipopes, while Siri reigned as the suppressed head of the Catholic Church until his death in 1989.[2]

Reasons and basis for belief

Traditionalist Catholics reject 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]

The followers of the Siri Thesis claim that during the papal conclave of 1958, Cardinal Siri (the last Cardinal made by Pope Pius XII), 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]

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. (One of these pictures can be seen at )

White smoke indicates that a Pope has been elected, has accepted, and has chosen a name. However, no Pope appeared on October 26, 1958, despite the five minutes of white smoke.

Two days later, the white smoke again rose from the Sistine Chapel, and this time John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli) emerged. Supporters of the Siri Thesis believe that evidence indicates that Giuseppe Cardinal Siri was elected on October 26, 1958 -- when the white smoke was seen but no Pope emerged on the balcony. Supporters of the Siri Thesis believe that dire threats against the Cardinals and the Vatican were made during this time, emanating in part from the Kremlin. Some believe that the pressures included a nuclear threat against the Vatican itself if Siri were not set aside and a more acceptable candidate chosen.

The possibility of a nuclear threat gained steam when the late author, Malachi Martin, wrote of threats which involved "the very existence of the Vatican state" during a conclave on pages 600 to 610 in his book, The Keys of this Blood, which deals primarily with Siri and the 1963 conclave.

Under this line of thought, after such threats entered the conclave, the liberal and subversive factions amongst the cardinals in the conclave (particularly the French cardinals) supposedly pressured Siri to step aside in light of the alleged threats, claiming that his strong anti-Communist policies would lead, among other things, to wide-spread persecution of Catholics in the Eastern Europe. Siri then allegedly accepted this suggestion, and eventually stepped aside. This led to the election of Angelo Cardinal Roncalli two days later, who took the name John XXIII.

As stated above, Sirianists cite that white smoke initially billowed forth from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel at 5:55 PM on October 26, 1958, thus signaling the election of a new pope; the smoke then changed to black at 6 PM, signaling that a pope had not been elected, which is claimed to be the work of the liberal cardinals.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation allegedly also claimed that Siri had indeed been elected on the third ballot on October 26, 1958.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Siri] This is found, complete with FBI document reference, in the book The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia by Paul L. Williams on pages 90-92. The document Williams referred to, allegedly declassified, can no longer be found. Williams, since questioned by interested readers, has adamantly refused to comment on why he included the alleged document and reference number in his book, or why the document can no longer be viewed.

What is unambiguously known is that Vatican Radio did conclude, on the basis of the five minutes of white smoke on October 26, 1958, 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."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Vaticanradio]

After the white smoke appeared, the Swiss Guard assembled to give the ceremonial salute to the new pontiff, only to be ordered to withdraw again sometime later when no Pope emerged on the balcony, and after the white smoke had turned back to black.

However, according to Sirianist apologetics, Cardinal Siri's supposed resignation was invalid according to Canon 185 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which states as 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."[4]

Malachi Martin later stated that that Siri was elected anew pope during the Papal conclave, October 1978. Martin publicly stated in March 1997 on Paranet Continuum radio programme Steel on Steel, hosted by John Loefller, that Siri received a written note after his initial election threatening him and his family with death should he accept. [5]


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 exists, but that he has been impeded by outside forces (sede impedita) from taking his office, which is still rightfully his de jure, or "by law".

Because some sedeimpeditists are even today not sedevacantists, some of them postulate that a true pope in the Siri line may still exist 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". A number of groups have attempted this step, including the David Bawdan group in Kansas, USA, who "elected" Bawdan as Pope Michael I in 1990, and the (late) Elizabeth Gerstner group, which "elected" a Victor von Pentz as Pope Linus II in 1994.

Sedeimpeditists who accept the Siri Thesis, believe that Giuseppe Siri was the "Pope in Exile" long prophesied by Catholic saints and holy persons (see "Catholic Prophecy" by Yves Dupont, Tan, 1971) during what they view as the current "Eclipse of the Church", as predicted by Our Lady of Lasalette in 1846 (a vision approved by the Church).


The authoritative biography of Cardinal Siri by Raimondo Spiazzi and other Italian biographers do not even mention the newspaper article, [6] possibly, because Italian articles are taken less seriously in Italy than in the USA and other English speaking countries. 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][7] 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]

External links

Promoting the Siri Thesis

Against the Siri Thesis

See also


  1. Comments on the Eclipse of the Church and October 26, 1958" [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Inside the Vatican staff (February 2006). "The "Siri Thesis" Unravels". Inside the Vatican. Retrieved 2007-02-21. 
  4. Holy See's Official Website. 1983 Code of Canon Law
  5. Loeffler, John, The Wisdom of Malachi Martin, Radio Liberty, Soquel, March 1997
  6. Raimondo Spiazzi, Il Cardinale Giuseppe Siri, Edizioni Studio Dominicani, Bologna, 1990
  7. Gary Giuffre & The 'Siri Thesis' by Hutton Gibson, The War is Now! #66, January 2006

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