(LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Rob Mutsaerts, auxiliary bishop of s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) in the Netherlands, is as outspoken as he is a loyal defender of traditional Church doctrine. After asking hard questions about the Synod on Synodality as the Rome meeting was drawing to its close, he again posted vigorous comments on his personal blog, Paarse Pepers, this time on Bishop Joseph Strickland’s recent dismissal as bishop of Tyler, Texas. He called it a “strange story” and an instance of “drastic measures” being taken by Rome against a “humble, balanced, faithful, and law-abiding” pastor of the Church.
Bishop Mutsaerts was particularly indignant about the absence of canonical recourse open to his brother bishop: this is not the first time, he notes, that Pope Frances has imposed such a sanction personally, as the highest authority in the Church, thereby depriving its recipient of any kind of “appeal of defense.”
“These are methods we might expect to see in North Korea, or Rome in the days of Nero,” he scathingly remarked.
But going beyond Bishop Strickland’s individual case and the injustice to which he has fallen victim, Rob Mutsaerts delves deeper into the present state of the Vatican following the Synod: “There’s something well and truly wrong in the Church in this year 2023. Rome has made dialogue with the secular world a top priority,” he writes in his direct and unmistakable style. He believes this is all about “allowing in practice ‘for pastoral reasons’ that which doctrine disapproves.”
Fear not, however, insists Mutsaerts: “Think of the very first College of Apostles. We read of their first joint performance in the gospel of Mark: ‘They all abandoned Him and fled.’… Everything will work out all right in the end.”
Bishop Mutsaerts refused to go to the 2018 Youth Synod because of its “lack of credibility”when the sex abuse crisis had revealed so many “difficulties” and a “lack of openness.” He signed a joint statement called “Protest against Pope Francis’ sacrilegious acts” after the Pachamama business at the Amazon Synod and accused the latter of pushing a “hidden agenda” that “ignores Christ” in a personal blog post. Now he has jumped to the defense of Bishop Strickland.
Bishop Mutsaerts is certainly not one to be intimidated. Here below is LifeSite’s full translation of his latest blog post:
Bishop Strickland’s dismissal
The dismissal of U.S. Bishop Joseph Strickland from the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, remains a strange story. As a bishop, Strickland is known for being humble, balanced, and faithful to the Church. Oh, and law-abiding too. Which is why he accepted his dismissal. His response is in no way hostile to the pope. He is simply asking for prayer and [for Catholics] to remain faithful to the Church.
A visitation took place, and as a result Strickland was asked to resign. That he did not do. The shepherd did not want to leave his flock on its own. No specific charges were made. Strickland was not even given the opportunity to be heard. This is something Pope Francis has done before: signing the decision himself. Since the pope is the highest authority, no appeal or defense is possible. A canonical procedure would be in order, though. It is extremely unusual to be deprived of a canonical procedure. These are methods we might expect to see in North Korea, or Rome in the days of Nero. It really seems as if there are no valid reasons. At the end of the day, Strickland holds traditional views and has criticized the way things are going at the Vatican now and then. That is apparently reason enough to sack him as Bishop of Tyler. Where is Rome now with its synodal church, with the church that listens, with The Church of Mercy? Rome is acting in total contradiction to what it is itself proclaiming.
His dismissal is all the more puzzling when you take a look at the state of affairs elsewhere in the Church: there are bishops who have covered up sexual abuse—and look at the madness in Germany where people blatantly contradict directives from Rome; there are bishops who preach heresy. Everything is being tolerated. It is only in the Strickland case, however, that drastic measures ensue.
An isolated few from the diocese of Tyler have made it known that they are not happy with Bishop Strickland. That may well be. There is not a single diocese in the whole world where everyone is happy with their bishop. Incidentally, the complaints were essentially ad hominem [attacks]. Strickland continues to proclaim that we must remain faithful to deposit of the faith of the Church. He regards the Apostolic Tradition as being of great importance. That has always been the Church’s position. But there’s something well and truly wrong in the Church in this year 2023. Rome has made dialogue with the secular world a top priority. Granted, it is our indeed our task to be missionaries in the secular world. But the last thing we should do is embrace secular views that are in direct opposition to the gospel. Rome really has an obsession with modernity.
Meanwhile, I hear no one talking about our core business: the salvation of souls. It was hardly discussed at the Synod on Synodality, if at all. It seems the outcomes are not as bad as expected. No, the Synod is not about doctrine. But in the meantime, a wedge is certainly being driven between doctrine and pastoral practice. That is what it is all about: allowing in practice “for pastoral reasons” that which doctrine disapproves. Rome is setting the bar lower and lower. We should in fact be doing the opposite: raising that bar higher, closer to God.
There are reasons to be concerned. [But] there is no reason for gloom. Think, for a moment, of Bishop Athanasius, that loner who did not go along with the Arian heresy, yet he won the case. Or of John Fisher. Among the [English] bishops, he was the only one who refused to sign the Act of Supremacy, the only bishop who did not break with the Roman Catholic Church. He died a martyr, but the Roman Catholic Church survived. For that matter, think of the very first College of Apostles. We read of their first joint performance in the gospel of Mark: “They all abandoned Him and fled” (Mk 14.50). All but one: John.
Everything will work out all right in the end. God has the last word. It is His Church: the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Not a single council, Church Father, or saint has added the word ‘synodal’ to that.