(LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Joseph Strickland has said that the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. told him to stop emphasizing the deposit of faith and “get with the program.”
In an interview on Raymond Arroyo’s show World Over on November 16, Strickland revealed more details about the purported reasons for his shocking removal.
Strickland recalled a conversion with the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Cardinal (then Archbishop) Christophe Pierre, that happened two years ago. The conversation, as Strickland recalls it, shows that his removal may have been in the making for years.
“I can’t quote directly that he [Cardinal Pierre] said [the deposit of faith] doesn’t exist, but it definitely wasn’t an emphasis, and that’s what they were telling me two years ago: ‘Quit emphasizing this so much and get with the program.’ It’s what I heard. I mean, he didn’t use those words, but that’s what I heard,” the former bishop of Tyler said.
“And with this, what happened a week ago, His Eminence basically said, it was sort of: ‘You didn’t get the warning two years ago; Pope Francis has made his decision: You need to be relieved of your work as Bishop of Tyler.’”
“I said I can’t resign. I said I respect that, yes, the Holy Father, as Supreme Pontiff, has the authority, if he chooses to, to remove me from that office, and he did choose to do so.”
Arroyo asked Strickland if Cardinal Pierre offered any reason for the Pope’s request for him to resign.
“Yes. He read several pages of issues of concern,” Strickland replied.
“He was just sort of giving me information about what the decision was based on,” he continued.
He emphasized that Pierre “didn’t mention a single administrative concern” regarding his diocese. “He did mention a lack of ‘fraternity’ with my brother bishops, which I think basically comes down to […]: ‘I’m speaking up and they’re not.’”
“The fact that I didn’t implement Traditionis custodes” was another reason cited by Pierre, Strickland recalled.
“We have a few Latin Masses, and as I said, I felt like I couldn’t deprive that portion of the flock of the nourishment they were receiving,” he explained, adding that the Latin Mass parishes are “packed to the gills” with “great young families.” He also mentioned that there is one Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) parish in his diocese.
“So that’s accurate,” Strickland said. “I didn’t implement that. I think other bishops have not responded to that, as maybe the Vatican wishes.”
Another issue that Strickland mentioned was his lack of support for the heterodox Synod on Synodality.
“That’s one of the things that was listed: I wasn’t supportive of the synod,” he stated. “And, you know, I stand by that. As I said in one of the tweets, I said, ‘Why are we discussing things that shouldn’t be up for discussion?’ It’s settled truth that God is revealed to us, as far as everything I know.”
He mentioned that Pierre also cited Strickland’s “social media presence” as a reason for his dismissal.
“I’d already been told to cool it on that, but I feel it’s important. I’m a successor of the apostles, and that’s a huge responsibility, and I feel the responsibility of speaking the truth as I understand it. I’ve tried to do so respectfully. I’m not about attacking anyone. I love the Church. I love Christ, his Church, Pope Francis. We’re all bishops. We’re all successors of the apostles. We should be working together.”
Strickland pointed to the double standard the Vatican employs when dealing with outspoken defenders of orthodoxy like himself and bishops who are connected to sexual abuse cases yet remain in office.
“There are many bishops still in their see that are corrupted and connected to the McCarrick scandal that we’ve never really gotten answers about,” Strickland told Arroyo.
“And there’s been no action against them; that double standard is troubling.”
Bishop Strickland reiterated that he was asked not to attend the annual USCCB meeting held this week in Baltimore.
“I was asked not to attend because of the controversy,” he said. “And I certainly respected that.”
Addressing the criticism that appearing in front of the USCCB meeting venue to lead a rosary rally could be “disruptive,” Strickland said that he had committed to these events before he was removed from his diocese.
“I’m sure I’ll be criticized for being here in Baltimore, but I had committed to be at a couple of gatherings to pray like I was at noon today, to pray a rosary,” he explained. “And I said, I’m not going to pull the plug on that because I’m not at the [USCCB] meeting.”
Arroyo also asked the American bishop about the letter from a Catholic that he read at LifeSiteNews’ Rome Life Forum on October 31. Some claimed that Strickland was promoting the idea that Francis is not the legitimate Pope by reading the letter, but he explained that this was not his understanding of the text.
“The way I read it… it used the word ‘usurper,’ which is very strong. But what I understood from that letter was that it was saying, and what I was being told, is [that] the pope is using the authority of the chair of Peter to change what Christ has said.”
Strickland stressed that he believes Francis is the legitimate pope.
“But certainly, the pope has said confusing things,” Strickland stated. “But a lot of the people that he has appointed as cardinals, the people in the various offices of the Vatican. They haven’t said confusing things; they’ve said things that contradict the deposit of faith. And the pope has to put them in their place.”
“He’s the pope. He can clear it up very quickly, very simply, and say, ‘This is what we believe as Catholics.’ I pray that he will do that.”
Arroyo: Sacking of Bishop Strickland was ‘a warning shot’ toward orthodox bishops
Canon lawyer Father Gerald Murray and Editor of TheCatholicThing.org Robert Royal joined Arroyo in a segment after the Strickland interview to discuss what they had just heard.
Murray addressed the accusations that Strickland lacked “fraternity” with his fellow bishop and that he did not restrict the Traditional Latin Mass.
“It is not a canonical offense not to always agree with your fellow bishops,” he stressed. “St. John Fisher showed that in the time of Henry VIII.”
“As regards implementing the prohibitions on the Latin Mass,” he continued. “Well, bishops have to make decisions on how they’re going to figure out how to help people in their dioceses. He mentioned he has a Fraternity of St. Peter parish. They’re not subject to Traditionis custodes; they can continue their activities. So that was that was troubling.”
“But really, what’s troubling is all of that should have been set down in a document so that the people of Tyler would know this from the mouth of the authority that’s emanating this decision of the pope and his nuncio.”
Murray noted that while some “administrative irregularities” were floated around as the reason for Strickland’s dismissal, the apostolic visitors never mentioned any concrete issues of concern in this regard.
“He [Strickland] averted to the fact there were disagreements of some decisions,” Murray noted. “Well, guess what? No bishop gets 100% agreement on things he does. That’s, again, not a reason to remove him.”
Royal said he thinks Strickland was “a thorn in the side” for Pope Francis.
“That’s just my own kind of global reading of what happened here because it kind of beggars belief that the one…very outspoken bishop here in the United States, among over 200 other bishops, happens to be the one guy whose administration calls for his removal from office. We know that all sorts of problems exist in other dioceses as well.” Royal said.
He pointed out that “a hundred dioceses” in the U.S. have not implemented Traditionis custodes the way the Vatican may have wanted it; therefore, citing it as a reason for Strickland’s removal seems dubious.
“I believe this is just the [that] Holy Father kind of figures that he [Strickland] is not my guy.”
“I think that the cause is simply that the pope…resents the way our bishops have resisted him. And this was a good opportunity – one week before the bishops are meeting in Baltimore – to make a point.”
Arroyo said that Strickland’s sacking “was clearly a warning shot…meant to get everybody’s attention.”
“Get with the program, guys…That’s clearly what’s the message here,” Arroyo concluded.