The Right Rev. Clarence Cullam Pope Jr., a Shreveport native and longtime Baton Rouge resident who died on Jan. 7 at age 82, is remembered for his dialogues with Roman Catholics about Christian unity.
Pope served as rector at Episcopalian churches in Bossier Parish and Baton Rouge and as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth from 1985 until his retirement in 1994, when he moved back to Baton Rouge.
An obituary published in The Advocate last week identified him as the first curate and school chaplain at Trinity Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, serving from 1954 until 1956, and as the second rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where he served from 1962 until 1985.
Despite his long history with the Episcopal church, Pope was an advocate for the denomination rejoining the Roman Catholic Church.
His Advocate obituary credited Pope’s consultations in the 1990s with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, with helping “lead to the recent foundation of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for those Anglican groups coming into full communion with the Catholic Church.”
Anglican Ink reports that upon his retirement, Pope became Catholic, in part because of the Church of England’s move to ordain women as priests.
In a story that ran in The Advocate in October 1994, Pope was quoted by the Dallas Morning News, “This is a spiritual pilgrimage, and I believe it to be under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
At the time, he applied for ordination as a Catholic priest, but was not accepted.
Soon after, several Episcopalian bishops asked him to return.
George Conger of Anglican Ink said, “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.’”
Conger reports that Pope said cancer treatments left him “very impaired in my thinking” and depressed. Pope said that when one of the Episcopalian bishops called, the depression allowed him to “drift back to the Episcopal Church.”
In 2007, Pope returned to the Catholic Church.
However, Pope didn’t see his return to Rome as a rejection of Anglicanism, Conger said, but rather as the culmination of a spiritual journey.
“My love of Anglicanism is very deep,” and returning to the Catholic Church was “the final step for which this (Anglican) preparation was intended,” Pope said.
Pope was buried in the Grace Episcopal Church cemetery in St. Francisville.
Sources: Advocate files; http://www.anglicanink.com/