+RIP Clarence C. Pope, 2nd Anglican Bishop of Fort Worth

Word comes from Fort Worth tonight that the Rt Rev'd Clarence Cullam Pope, Jr, second (Episcopalian) bishop of Fort Worth (retired), has died in the communion of the Catholic Church. The link to the story by George Conger is here.

May he rest in peace, rise in glory, and continue to pray for us who follow him into full communion with the Successor of Peter.

Author: Fr. Sam Edwards

Fr. Samuel L. Edwards has recently established The Pondering Heart, which can be briefly, if inadequately, described as "An Ecumenical Catholic Apostolate" that grew out of what began as a private project to create a vade mecum for use with the Holy Rosary. He is a native of Waynesville, North Carolina and recently has returned there. An honors graduate of Brevard College, The American University (Washington, DC), and Nashotah House Seminary (Wisconsin), he has served churches in north central Texas, southern Maryland and central Alabama. For seven years he was the Executive Director of Forward in Faith, North America, then the largest organization of traditional Anglicans in The Episcopal Church, during which he traveled and spoke widely, both in the United States and abroad. After 29 years in The Episcopal Church (23 of them as a member of the clergy), he became part of the Continuing Anglican movement in 2002. He was Vicar of Saint Peter’s Church in Waynesville until the end of 2010, at which time he stepped down to prepare for entry into the Catholic Church, preferably through the hoped-for Ordinariate for the United States. Presently he is a member of the Pro-diocese of the Holy Family in the TAC’s Patrimony of the Primate. Fr. Edwards’ ministry always has had a strong focus on teaching. He is the author of numerous articles on religious, social, historical and political topics, both in church publications and secular newspapers. He has also written two books (neither published as yet) – Constitution and Institution on the renewal of ecclesiology (the doctrine about the Church) and The Pondering Heart: A Rosary for all Christians. He is also engaged in a long and intermittent project of organizing his instructional material into another book with the working title, The Great Belonging: Basics of Christian Teaching and Practice. Fr. Edwards was a contender for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly’s House of Representatives in the General Election of 2010, and though he was not elected, he turned in a strong showing against a well-financed incumbent, garnering more than 45% of the vote. He is currently a candidate for the Board of Alderman in Waynesville. Fr. Edwards and his wife, Kay, have been married for over 30 years. They have two grown children and one grandson.

10 thoughts on “+RIP Clarence C. Pope, 2nd Anglican Bishop of Fort Worth”

  1. Way back when, with the ESA and Bishop Pope, we had a way forward. There was a sense of some catholic order, and maybe unity with other like-minded "Catholics." Many agreed with our basics, but they wouldn't make a commitment, because of the women thing. After all, deacon(esses) were everywhere–almost, and these Episcopalians wouldn't rock the boat; better to wait and see which way the wind would blow next! Of course, liberals would suggest that 39'rs might suspect a "romish" conspiracy, and passed the buck carte blanche. We were tolerated, even accommodated. ECUSA needed us!

    I didn't quite understand when Bishop Pope went to Rome, but it was really odd when he came back. (Of course, many stranger things have happened since.) It's good that he was able to finally reconcile with the greater Catholic Church. It took Dr. Schori to ultimately show us where we were headed. (Thank-you, Dr. Schori!)

    Rest in peace, Bishop Pope. May you be refreshed and prepared for the Coming of Our Lord.

  2. Did Clarence Pope die in or out of communion with the Catholic Church?
    Both the "Orthodox Anglican" Virtue Online website and Episcopal News Service via the "reconstituted" TEC Diocese of Fort Worth report that he returned to the Episcopal Church in 2008 after his 2007 return to the Catholic Church as well as the schedule of his wake and funeral at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge and burial at Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery, St. Francisville.

    1. Having now read both stories, there is no clear indication of a second (and final) return to TEC in either. It could be that what I read is a revised version of an earlier story. Bishop Wantland's comment in the VOL story, "Although he went to Rome (and returned) we stayed in contact," is somewhat ambiguous about whether the return referenced is to TEC or to Rome, but the evidence seems to be on the side of his having returned to TEC only once.

      I admit it is a bit confusing when one considers the published programme of funeral rites at St Lukes, BR and Grace Church, St Francisville. Given his long pastoral history with St Luke's, it is understandable that they would want a formal farewell there. Perhaps there will be/ has been a Rite of Christian Burial/ Requiem in his Catholic parish which is not being reported, but that is simply speculation on my part.

      1. I agree that there is no clear indication of such; only "apparently returned to The Episcopal Church in 2008" in the TEC Fort Worth Diocese notice of his death (http://episcopaldiocesefortworth.org/newsindiocese/010912-%20bishop%20pope%20obit.htm). I think that is based on an earlier (3/11/2008) VOL "exclusive/special report" by David Virtue himself, "Clarence Pope Returns to The Episcopal Church…Again" (http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=7896&com_id=87890&com_rootid=87251&com_mode=thread), which begins:

        Unconfirmed reports, reaching Virtueonline, say that the former Bishop of Ft. Worth, the Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope Jr., has returned to the Episcopal Church.
        He was seen attending the Eucharist at St. Patrick's Episcopal parish in Zachary, Louisiana, on Sunday, a sign marking his official return to the Episcopal Church. Pope could not be reached for comment.

        It could have been a visit without taking Communion.
        The VOL item also makes reference to the uncertainty surrounding his 2007 return to the Catholic Church:

        This second return to the Catholic Church was kept very quiet, however; very few people seemed aware of it, and a priest on the staff of Saint Luke's in Baton Rouge adamantly maintained that the Bishop and Mrs. Pope were at the altar rail there consistently every Sunday.

    1. It is said one should not speak ill of the dead. We do not know the whole story, so I think we must in charity defer judgement. I do have good information that he was treated quite shamefully when he came over the first time. For myself, I worry that I was not as supportive or communicative as I might have been, as I was received into communion before him. All in all, I think we have to give people the benefit of a doubt, not being in full possession of all the facts; something that applies to the living as well as the dead. He might have made a very fine priest in the Catholic church, and how many of us, including some who are now priests in the Catholic Church, can say we would have stuck it out if faced with the same difficult circumstances and the same ill-treatment he faced. I hope I would have, but one never knows. Also, we have plenty of work to do without passing judgement on a man who is dead: cui bono? So please pray for the repose of his his soul, and strive to learn from both the positive and negative aspects of his example, but leave the judgements of character, and the "what ifs", to God.

  3. In any event he seems to have been an honest seeker of Truth and a good shepherd.
    A picture of him in his episcopal regalia is absolutely stunning. That crozier is marvelous, wonder who gets that!

  4. I don't believe the Conger story really addresses the question you are interested in (what church he finally belonged to when he died). I don't know that either. However, I have no indication outside the Conger story that he died in communion with the Holy See. He was apparently no longer a part of TEC as he was not listed as a retired bishop in the church directory. Since Fort Worth left TEC in 2008, he has been listed in our diocesan directory as "Assisting Bishop." Awhile back, I asked Bishop Iker about that; I was curious what that meant since Bishop Pope was not making active visitations like our other assisting bishop, Bishop Wantland. He said that Pope was basically retired from active ministry, but wanted to have standing as a bishop in the Anglican Communion, and this was a way of doing that.

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