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UPDATED: Former Episcopal Bishop Clarence Pope, Jr. Dead at 81

By Randy Sly
January 10th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Clarence Pope, former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, gained the reputation over the years for being an orthodox Anglo-Catholic. He made the news in the 1994 and 1995 regarding his entrance and subsequent exit from the Roman Catholic Church. He re-entered in 2007. In 2008, the former bishop again returned to his Anglican roots.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - The Right Reverend Clarence C. Pope, Jr, the second bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, died in his sleep on Monday in a Baton Rouge, LA hospital where he was battling pneumonia. He was 81.

According to George Conger, on his blog "Anglican Ink," his wife, Dr. Martha Pope, and other members of the family had visited the former bishop this past week.

Pope gained the reputation over the years for being an orthodox Anglo-Catholic. He made the news in the 1994 and 1995 regarding his entrance and subsequent exit from the Roman Catholic Church.

Upon his retirement in 1994, he announced that he and his wife would be entering the Roman Catholic Church. After his reception by Cardinal Law in Boston, the former bishop sought re-ordination in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. He was subsequently turned down and, with urging from some fellow Episcopal bishops, re-entered the Episcopal Church in 1995 and was reinstated to the House of Bishops.

Conger reports in his article that Pope's rapid return to the Episcopal Church was partly due to trials he was going through due to prostate cancer.

He writes, "Bishop Pope said he regretted his return to the Episcopal Church, explaining that shortly after he was received into the Catholic Church, 'I was discovered to have advanced prostate cancer and that because it had spread so aggressively, I probably would not survive."

"The series of chemotherapy treatments and radiation he underwent left him 'very impaired in my thinking,' he said. The toll taken by his treatment and his tepid reception from the Catholic Church provoked depression.

"'In the midst of all this sense of losing any awareness of belonging, Presiding Bishop Ed Browning called to see how I was,' Bishop Pope said.

"'Needing some ground of belonging, I gave in to his nudging and, as he claimed never to have received my letter of resignation, I drifted back to the Episcopal Church,' Bishop Pope said. He asserts now that 'being of sounder emotional stability and out from under a fog bank of severe depression, I would never have made such a return.'"

Later, in 2007, he re-entered into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. At this point he emphasized the fact that his decision was not a rejection of his Anglican roots but the result. Earlier in his episcopal ministry, the former bishop was a strong proponent of the Episcopal Church's corporate reunification with the Catholic Church.

One year later unconfirmed reports began to surface that Clarence Pope had, again, returned to his Anglican roots in the Episcopal Church. Those reports were later substantiated and that, at the time of his death, he was a member of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, Zachary, LA.

Doug LeBlanc of "The Living Church" indicates that he will be buried from St. Luke's, and will rest at the graveyard of Grace Episcopal Church, St. Francisville.

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Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

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