Episcopalian Again

Episcopal News Service. December 21, 1998 [98-2279Q]

(CC) The Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope, Jr., has returned to the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) after having twice left it for the Roman Catholic Church according to Christian Challenge.

Pope's trips between Canterbury and Rome first began in 1994 prior to his retirement as bishop of Fort Worth. He announced to a chapter of the Catholic Clerical Union his conclusion that for orthodox Episcopalians, the turmoil in ECUSA was best addressed by the Roman Catholic Church. His decision got mixed reviews among members of the organization he formerly led, Episcopal Synod of America (ESA).

Pope and his wife Martha were received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1995. It took only seven months for him to return to ECUSA, citing that he found his thinking "increasingly compromised" because the rescript from Rome called for him to be ordained anew rather than conditionally. Pope felt it meant denying the validity and efficacy of his Anglican ordination and consecration.

Former Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning paved the way for Pope's return by advising the ECUSA House of Bishops (which had never acted to accept Pope's resignation) that Pope was under treatment for aggressive cancer and wanted to live his remaining time in the Episcopal Church.

Pope was welcomed back only to seek out the Roman Church last February for his original conversion. His friends have speculated that his current homecoming may have been motivated by the generally orthodox outcome of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and/or disappointment over the wait for the ordination rescript from the Holy See, though only some eight months had transpired since his readmission to the Roman Communion.