The Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope, second Bishop of Fort Worth, died late Jan. 8 at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was 82.
His death prompted sympathetic notes from the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Pope’s successor in Fort Worth, and the Diocese of Louisiana.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Bishop Clarence Pope, who faithfully shepherded this diocese during a turbulent decade in the life of the Anglican Communion,” Bishop Iker said in announcing Pope’s death. “He will be remembered first as a loving pastor who cared deeply for his clergy and their families, and second as a defender of the historic faith and order of the catholic church. We give thanks to God for his courage and perseverance in engaging the conflicts that engulfed his episcopate. On a personal note, I feel the loss of a valued mentor and beloved friend.”
The Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, the Diocese of Louisiana’s canon to the ordinary, wrote that the bishop’s office learned of Pope’s death just before midnight on Jan. 8. He added: “Please remember the Pope family in prayer, in particular the bishop and his wife of many years, Martha.”
Pope completed his undergraduate education at a Methodist school, Centenary College of Louisiana. He was a classmate of Edmond L. Browning’s at St. Luke’s School of Theology, University of the South, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1955.
He was rector of St. George’s, Bossier City, before becoming the second rector of St. Luke’s, Baton Rouge, in 1962. He was elected on the first ballot in November 1984 as bishop coadjutor of Fort Worth.
Pope was among the founders of the Episcopal Synod of America, known today as Forward in Faith in North America.
In late 1994 Pope announced his plans to resign as bishop and become a Roman Catholic. The transition proved difficult for him.
“I could not shake the image of my consecration,” Pope told Gustav Niebuhr of The New York Times in August 1995. “I thought I could lay it aside. I couldn’t.” Browning welcomed Pope back to the church, after inviting him to return.
Pope said in 2007 that he would return to Roman Catholicism. By 2010 he became a parishioner at St. Patrick’s, Zachary. He will be buried Jan. 12 from St. Luke’s, where the parish hall is named in his honor.