In recent reports, Pope Francis has removed Bishop Joseph Strickland from his pastoral duties in Tyler, Texas. Bishop Strickland is a conservative rep famous for his active presence on social media. He has been a vocal critic of Pope Francis and specific priorities of the Pontiff. The Pintoff responded to recent months of outspoken conflict from the 65-year-old Bishop Strickland and appointed Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin as an interim administrator.
The Vatican decision came after the earlier reports of investigators to overview Strickland’s governance of a Bishop and complaints from priests and laypeople. The Vatican investigators, Bishop Dennis Sullivan and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas, conducted a comprehensive inquiry into Strickland’s governance. The investigation recommended Pope
Francis is not to continue with Bishop Stickland as he seems not feasible for office. The Vatican asked the Bishop to resign, but he declined, which led to Pope Francis’s news of the removal of the Bishop.
Concerns about Strickland’s unorthodox views made Pope Francis initiate any clerical visitation in June conducted by two U.S. bishops. The Vatican never disclosed particular details about the investigation but completed a thorough inquiry.
The decision to remove the Bishop called out some conservatives and traditionalists and stated that Pope Francis is actively trying to bury the loyalty to the Church.
There is also Pope Francis’s news that highlighted concerns about the right-wing fraction within the United States Catholic hierarchy, which is a clear split among Progressives and conservatives. Strickland remained associated with more conservative figures, such as Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who also strongly criticized Pope Francis.
During the recent meeting, Strickland became critical of Francis while conversing about the future of the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, they have discussed controversial topics, including LGBTQ+ Catholics, the potential ordination of female clerics, and the consideration of married men for priesthood.
Strickland’s criticism extended to the COVID-19 pandemic, where he propagated anti-vaccine feelings while criticizing President Biden’s stance on defeating rights. Moreover, he publicly supported a controversial video claiming that Catholics should not vote for Democrats in political elections.
Bishop Strickland’s criticism of Pope Francis peaked when he asserted on X (formerly known as Twitter) that the Pontiff was “undermining the deposit of faith.” In a bold challenge to papal authority in the same year, 2020, he labeled the Church weak and unclear while providing grounds for Pintoff to dismiss him.
Strickland’s refusal to implement Franci’s 2021 restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass has become a contention among traditionalist Catholics as he opposed the Pope’s progressive stance.
However, it is rare for a pope to remove any bishop from office, and bishops usually offer to resign when they reach 75. The Vatican statement made it very clear that Bishop Stickland was not offered to resign, and Pope Francis relieved him from his position.
The Catholic Cleric officially confirmed Strickland’s removal in a statement, expressing optimism towards blessings and strengthening the Church and its fidelity during the transitional period. This recent development initiated the conversation about Pope Francis and the challenges within the Catholic Church. The statement from Tyler depicted that the Church would continue despite Stickland’s removal, and the incoming administrator, Bishop Joe, asked for prayers during this transition.