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Pope Francis fires conservative critic from put up as Texas bishop

Strickland, 65, has emerged as a number one critic of Francis, accusing him in a tweet earlier this yr of “undermining the deposit of religion.”


Pope Francis on Saturday ordered the elimination of the bishop of Tyler, Texas, a conservative prelate energetic on social media who has been a fierce critic of the pontiff and has come to represent the polarization throughout the US Catholic hierarchy.

A one-line assertion from the Vatican mentioned Francis had “relieved” Bishop Joseph Strickland of the pastoral governance of Tyler and appointed the bishop of Austin because the momentary administrator.

Strickland, 65, has emerged as a number one critic of Francis, accusing him in a tweet earlier this yr of “undermining the deposit of religion.” He has been significantly important of Francis’ current assembly on the way forward for the Catholic Church throughout which hot-button points have been mentioned, together with methods to raised welcome LGBTQ+ Catholics.

Earlier this yr, the Vatican despatched in investigators to look into his governance of the diocese, amid reviews that clergymen and laypeople in Tyler had complained and that he was making unorthodox claims.

The Vatican by no means launched the findings and Strickland had insisted he wouldn’t resign voluntarily, saying in media interviews that he was given a mandate to function bishop in 2012 by the late Pope Benedict XVI and couldn’t abdicate that duty.

The conservative web site LifeSiteNews, which mentioned it interviewed Strickland on Saturday, quoted him as saying one of many causes given for his ouster was his refusal to implement Francis’ 2021 restrictions on celebrating the previous Latin Mass.

Crackdown on previous liturgy

Francis’ crackdown on the previous liturgy has turn into a rallying cry for traditionalist Catholics against the pontiff’s progressive bent. Strickland advised LifeSite he refused to implement the restrictions “as a result of I can’t starve out a part of my flock.”

He mentioned he stood by his choice, would do it once more and “I really feel very a lot at peace within the Lord and the reality that he died for.”

His firing sparked an instantaneous outcry amongst some conservatives and traditionalists who had held up Strickland as a number one level of Catholic reference to counter Francis’ progressive reforms. Michael J. Matt, editor of the traditionalist newspaper The Remnant, wrote that with the firing, Francis was “actively making an attempt to bury constancy to the Church of Jesus Christ.”

“That is complete struggle,” Matt wrote on X, previously Twitter. “Francis is a transparent and current hazard not solely to Catholics the world over but in addition to the entire world itself.”

The 2 Vatican investigators despatched to research Strickland — Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, N.J., and the retired bishop of Tucson, Ariz., Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas — “carried out an exhaustive inquiry into all facets of the governance and management of the diocese,” mentioned the top of the church in Texas, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.

After their investigation, a suggestion was made to Francis that “the continuation in workplace of Bishop Strickland was not possible,” DiNardo mentioned in an announcement Saturday.

The Vatican requested Strickland to resign Thursday, however he declined, prompting Francis to take away him from workplace two days later, DiNardo’s assertion mentioned.

Issues about US proper

It’s uncommon for the pope to take away a bishop from workplace. Bishops are required to supply to resign once they attain 75. When the Vatican uncovers points with governance or different issues that require a bishop to depart workplace earlier than then, the Vatican often seeks to stress him to supply to resign for the great of his diocese and the church.

That was the case when one other US bishop was pressured out earlier this yr following a Vatican investigation. Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tenn., resigned voluntarily, albeit underneath stress, following allegations he mishandled intercourse abuse allegations and his clergymen complained about his management and behavior.

However with Strickland, the Vatican assertion made clear that he had not provided to resign and that Francis had as an alternative “relieved” him from his job.

Francis has not been shy about his considerations about the appropriate wing within the US Catholic hierarchy, which has been break up between progressives and conservatives who lengthy discovered assist within the doctrinaire papacies of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, significantly on problems with abortion and same-sex marriage.

In feedback to Portuguese Jesuits in August, Francis blasted the “backwardness” of those conservative bishops, saying they’d changed religion with ideology and {that a} appropriate understanding of Catholic doctrine permits for change over time.


Strickland had been related to essentially the most excessive of those bishops, together with the previous Vatican ambassador to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a fierce Francis critic who in 2018 known as for the pope to resign.

Strickland backed Vigano’s conspiracy theories concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, and on Saturday Vigano wrote that Strickland’s ouster confirmed a “cowardly type of authoritarianism” by Francis. “This affair will reveal who stands with the true Church of Christ and who chooses to face with His declared enemies,” Vigano wrote on X.

Political divide

Most just lately, Strickland had criticized Francis’ monthlong closed-door debate on making the church extra welcoming and conscious of the wants of Catholics at present. The assembly debated a number of beforehand taboo points, together with girls in governance roles and welcoming LGBTQ+ Catholics, however ultimately, its remaining doc didn’t veer from established doctrine.

Forward of the assembly, Strickland mentioned it was a “travesty” that such issues have been even on the desk for dialogue.

”Regrettably, it might be that some will label as schismatics those that disagree with the adjustments being proposed,” Strickland wrote in a public letter in August. “As an alternative, those that would suggest adjustments to that which can’t be modified search to commandeer Christ’s Church, and they’re certainly the true schismatics.”


In an announcement Saturday, the diocese of Tyler introduced Strickland’s elimination however mentioned the church’s work would proceed in Tyler.

“Our mission is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to foster an genuine Christian group, and to serve the wants of all folks with compassion and love,” it mentioned.

In a social media put up despatched a couple of hours earlier than the Vatican’s midday announcement, Strickland wrote a prayer about Christ being the “manner, the reality and the life, yesterday, at present and without end.” He had modified the deal with from his earlier @bishopoftyler to @BishStrickland.

The incoming momentary administrator for Tyler, Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez, mentioned he can be travelling to the diocese over the approaching weeks to be readily available for the clergymen, workers and lay devoted “to evaluate their wants.”

He requested for prayers for his work and the folks of Tyler “throughout this time of transition.”

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