Pledge your prayers for Bp. Strickland HERE
(LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, is called “America’s Bishop” by many, and with good reason. He’s one of the only voices from the hierarchy to fight the eminent cultural ills of our time, going out and leading the laity in prayer against the culture of death.
He joins me on this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show to discuss how he became a bishop, and what he sees as the chief problems in the Church and the world.
Recounting how he became a bishop, Strickland tells me that he entered seminary for the Diocese of Dallas in 1977, at a time before the establishment of the Diocese of Tyler. His first assignment after seminary was to the then Church of the Immaculate Conception (now Cathedral) in Tyler before being transferred. Eventually, he was appointed rector of the cathedral of the new Diocese of Tyler, assisting his three predecessor bishops.
“I’ve told people I lived in that rectory longer than any other place in my life, because I was rector for 16 years,” Strickland remembers. “It’s very often that men become bishops that work closely with bishops and work in the chancery,” he explains, adding that the bishops had him study canon law and put him on the diocesan tribunal for 15 years as the judicial vicar of Tyler. Between the episcopacies of his two immediate predecessors in 2000, he was made administrator of the diocese.
“I think that that really propelled me more towards… one day being a bishop, because being an administrator… you’re administering the diocese,” His Excellency tells me. “You don’t have the authority of a bishop, but you have limited authority to basically make sure things continue.” Strickland was appointed bishop of Tyler in November 2012.
The subject of the crises in the Church arose midway through this first part of our conversation. Comparing Pope Francis to his two immediate predecessors, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Strickland tells me that in his view, the focus of the Church has shifted from looking to heaven to conversations with our fellows.
“John Paul II and then Benedict were really pulling us to the vertical again, to look to the heavens, to look to God,” Strickland opines, referencing the crisis in the Church before the election of St. John Paul in 1978.
Using architecture as an analogy, His Excellency notes that in ages past, churches were built to inspire and make man to “drive the eyes up” toward God. “I think the way I would describe what’s happened in… the Pope Francis years, and it’s certainly not all Pope Francis, but it’s a whole milieu… of rather than looking up, looking [at] the vertical, it’s all horizontal, and it’s not certainly all horizontal, but that’s what’s emphasized,” he says.
Applying his opinion to his own experience as a bishop, Strickland observes that the change of focus has “put [him] where [he is]” and “grown” him as a bishop. Recounting his time as bishop of Tyler, Strickland says that he has been in “more or less” conflict with what he calls a “new worldview” in the Church, whereby people dialogue with each other, especially about “answered questions.”
“We don’t need to have a discussion, in my opinion, about things where we have the answer,” Strickland maintains.
Shifting his focus to problems in the world, Strickland declares that the “preeminent linchpin” of all of society’s problems is the sacredness of a child in his mother’s womb, and that the conception of a child in the womb should be culturally celebrated, and the Church should be clear that the “greatest gift the world has is a newly conceived child.”
“Too many people in Congress, too many people in the Church… are saying, ‘Oh, well, you need to have options,’” he tells me. “I just saw another political candidate coming out that… said… he supports abortion from up until birth. It’s diabolical! It really is. It is anti-God, it is anti-human!”
According to Strickland, the way to deal with people he sees as “deluded” for denying the sanctity of life, however, is with compassion, adding that “too many human leaders in the Church these days are deluded to think… something less than the sanctity of the life of every child conceived.”
“Certainly the Church is… affected deeply by it, and in some ways corrupted by a world that has turned its back on God, and too many people in the Church are sort of giving God a cold shoulder, even claiming to be Catholic,” he stresses, asserting that one cannot “sort of be halfway Catholic.”
“I think that… that image of… looking too horizontal and just sort of staying in the world, looking to each other and forgetting we came from God, we need to keep looking to God and being lifted to our… highest potential by God’s grace.”
His Excellency also applies the sanctity of human life to other cultural issues, such as the border crisis and gender ideology. Responding to the hypothesis that pro-lifers should also care about immigration as well as abortion, Strickland asserts that all cultural issues we currently experience come from a lack of respect for human life.
“We have to start [fixing these problems] with a new culture that recognizes the sanctity of life,” Strickland asserts.
“If you recognize that, then super wealthy means super helpful to the people of God instead of building bigger and bigger mansions and havin … obscene things that because you’ve got the money, you can… have just things that no person could ever need or should ever want if they have a sort of balanced understanding of what life is.”
“How do we be brothers and sisters to each other instead of… squandering wealth on… unnecessary luxuries that forget that there are people that don’t have a home, don’t have clothing, don’t have food,” Strickland concludes. “That’s all woven into the border issues… It’s very complicated and also very simple to me.”
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II of my two-part interview with Bishop Joseph Strickland.
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Pledge your prayers for Bp. Strickland HERE