Bp. Alan C. Charles Clark

ARCIC-I (Co-Chair, 1969-1981)

From the Diocese of East Anglia:

“He was born in Bickley, Kent on 9th August 1919. At a young age he contracted polio and was taken to Lourdes. He made a wonderful recovery and it was then that he set his sights on the priesthood. His older brother was to do the same.

“Alan Clark studied at the Venerable English College in Rome and was ordained to the Priesthood for the Archdiocese of Southwark on 11 February 1945 (The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes). He was involved in the Second Vatican Council as a peritus and was later to become the Vice-Rector of his old seminary in Rome. From there he would return to his Diocese of Southwark where he became Parish Priest of Our Lady Help of Christian, Blackheath, Kent before being selected as the new Auxiliary Bishop of Northampton with the Titular See of Elmham.

“In fact, Elmham was the location of one of the earliest cathedrals in East Anglia. In about AD 630 or AD 631, a diocese was established by St Felix for the Kingdom of the East Angles, with his episcopal seat at Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. In AD 672, the diocese was divided into the Sees of Dunwich and Elmham by St Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury.

“The line of bishops of Elmham continued until it was interrupted by the Danish Viking invasions in the late 9th and early 10th centuries. By the mid 950s, the Sees of Elmham and Dunwich were reunited under one bishop, with the Episcopal See at Elmham. After the Norman conquest, the See was transferred to Thetford in 1075, and soon afterwards to Norwich in 1094. It looks like Rome was being prophetic in the appointment!

“Bishop Clark was named the Co-chairman of ARCIC and as the first bishop of the new diocese [of East Anglia in 1976], he had to set up all the necessary instruments and commissions for the diocese to operate successfully. The diocese continued to grow with the development of the diocesan offices and diocesan tribunal attached to The White House in Poringland near Norwich. This estate had been gifted to the Diocese of Northampton by the Birbeck Family and had become the residence of the retired Bishop of Northampton, The Rt Revd Leo Parker.

“Bishop Clark continued in office until his seventy-fifth birthday made it mandatory for him to tender his resignation to the Holy See in 1994. This was accepted on 21st March, 1995 and at that point he became Bishop Emeritus. He retired to a house built in the grounds and died in the 16th July, 2002 at the age of eighty-two.”

From the Lambeth Palace Library:

Priest, 1945; Curate, St Philip’s, Arundel, 1945-46; postgraduate studies, Rome, 1946-48; Doctorate in Theology, Gregorian University, Rome, 1948; Tutor in Philosophy, English College, Rome, 1948-53, Vice-Rector, 1954-64; Parish Priest, St Mary’s, Blackheath, SE3, 1965-69; Auxiliary Bishop of Northampton, 1969-76; Titular Bishop of Elmham, 1969-76. Peritus at Second Vatican Council, 1962-65; Co-Chair, ARCIC, 1969-81 (Lambeth Cross); Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia, 1976-94; Chairman, Department for Mission and Unity, Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, 1984-94; Co-Moderator, Joint Working Group of the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, 1984-?.