Retired Catholic Bishop Dies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Retired Bishop Carroll T. Dozier, an outspoken champion of racial reconciliation during his 12 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church’s Memphis Diocese, died early today. He was 74.
Dozier died of respiratory arrest at St. Francis Hospital where he had been admitted since suffering a stroke Thursday night.
His death was announced by the Most Rev. J. Francis Stafford who succeeded Dozier as bishop upon his retirement in 1983.
Gary Honnert, a spokesman for the diocese, said Stafford, a few priests and close friends were with family members praying at Dozier’s bedside when the retired bishop died at 3:15 a.m.
″Bishop Dozier was a prophet of the peace of Jesus Christ for his diocese, his nation and the world as a man of the gospel,″ Stafford said.
″His powerful voice of conscience and reason will be sorely missed. His contributions to the causes of justice, peace and particularly racial harmony are immeasurable.″
Dozier was the first bishop of the Memphis diocese when it was created out of the 21 counties in west Tennessee in 1971.
His years as spiritual leader of the diocese’s 64,000 Catholics were marked by frequent controversy.
An early opponent of the Vietnam War, Dozier offered support and guidance to draft resisters. He also called for busing in public schools to achieve racial balance, and was an early supporter of women’s rights.
In 1976, Dozier conducted Masses of Reconciliation that drew capacity crowds to municipal auditoriums in Jackson and Memphis.
He said he wanted to bring back to the church Catholics who had left the faith because of divorce or other disagreements with church rules. Estranged Catholics were offered counseling and urged to look for ways to return to the church.
Dozier’s actions drew questions from the church hierarchy, but he refused to back down.
″It is not sufficient to say, ‘I love God,’ ″ he once said. ″There must be total love of your neighbor.″
A native of Norfolk, Va., Dozier was ordained in Rome in 1937 and served parishes in Virginia before coming to Memphis.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.