Sunday, August 12
Pope Popes Again, again
I was slightly irked by those who, throughout the web, have taken the license to belittle Clarence Pope for returning to the Episcopal Church (USA) in 1995, although my annoyance probably arises from keen awareness of my own humanity (and the ever-present question of whether I would have had the guts to go through such a conversion) bumping up against the raw sanctity of the critics. Though, my annoyance may also have arisen from a certain hesitancy to judge the culpability of a moral act by presuming to know the state of the moral agent, with all its complex or mitigating factors.
Either way, Clarence Pope has this to say about his return to the Episcopal Church in 1995:
Bishop Pope said he regretted his return to The Episcopal Church in 1995, after having spent a year as a Roman Catholic. He explained that shortly after he was received into the Roman Catholic Church by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, “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 explained. The toll of his treatment and his tepid reception from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, which had refused him ordination as a priest, 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. His classmate from the 1954 seminary class at Sewanee encouraged him to return to The Episcopal Church.
“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.”
Read the whole thing.