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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis met with Vatican officials over the weekend to discuss asking Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, to resign, according to a report on Monday by The Pillar.
Pope Francis met on Saturday with Archbishop Robert Prevost, O.S.A., the head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Pillar reported that several sources close to the dicastery told the website ahead of the meeting that the two prelates, both of whom Pope Francis named cardinals in July, would present the pope with the results of a recent apostolic visitation of the Diocese of Tyler in addition to “public actions” of Bishop Strickland following the visitation.
Pope Francis is expected to ask for Bishop Strickland’s resignation, according to one senior official close to the Dicastery for Bishops.
“The situation of Bishop Strickland is the agenda,” the official told The Pillar, “and the expectation is that the Holy Father will be requesting his resignation – that will certainly be the recommendation put to him.”
“The official predicted that the Pope was unlikely to decide to depose Strickland as bishop of his diocese, a canonically rare act, but told The Pillar that Pope Francis would be advised to encourage the bishop to resign,” the outlet reported.
“The consensus in the dicastery is that he will be asked to consider resigning,” the official said. “That has been the substance of discussion among the members.”
“Depending on how the bishop responds, the strength of that encouragement could be increased,” the official added.
The Pillar previously reported that sources familiar with Strickland’s visitation said that diocesan officials and clergy interviewed as part of the investigation were asked about him potentially resigning and possible successors.
Prevost is one of three American prelates who are members of the Dicastery for Bishops, along with Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, both notorious liberals.
The potential move by Francis comes against one of the most forthright and vocal bishops in the United States, who has drawn considerable support both from within and without his diocese for his promotion of traditional Catholic teaching.
Strickland and his diocese have been the subject of much scrutiny among the Catholic media ever since it was revealed that he was subject to an apostolic visitation in June 2023. His visitation was conducted by two retired bishops: Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, New Jersey, and former Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona.
Kicanas was widely noted by Catholics concerned about the visitation due to his troublesome record on abortion and homosexuality. He defended Catholic Relief Services’s funding of pro-abortion groups in 2012 and, among other things, was endorsed by a homosexual group in the likelihood of his becoming president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, as LifeSite’s John-Henry Westen has reported.
No public announcement regarding the outcome of Strickland’s visitation had been issued to the public prior to The Pillar’s report.
Last year, Pope Francis removed Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres, another outspoken advocate of Catholic teaching, from the Diocese of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, without explanation, reportedly due to his support for conscience objections to COVID jab mandates.
The pope, however, has not disciplined numerous bishops who have publicly contradicted Catholic doctrine on homosexual activity, gender, same-sex “blessings,” the ordination of women, and the reception of the Eucharist.
In March, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., of Luxembourg a member of the Council of Cardinals after Hollerich said that he believes Church teaching on sodomy is “false.” Francis has also named Hollerich the relator general of his Synod on Synodality.
More recently, the pope appointed Argentine Cardinal-designate Victor Manuel Fernández the prefect of the Dicastery (formerly Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith, despite Fernández’ heterodoxy on various subjects.
Speaking on a July episode of The Bishop Strickland Hour, Strickland compared his apostolic visitation with “being called to the principal’s office.” But he suggested that it is a result of his vocal witness to Catholic doctrine:
No, it’s not something that I would volunteer for, to go through an apostolic visitation. Because it kind of puts a shadow over the diocese, [and] a lot of people are convinced that there’s something really wrong. But I think that I went through this because I’ve been bold enough and love the Lord enough and His Church to simply keep preaching the truth.
Bishop Strickland, 64, is well known among LifeSite readers for his unequivocal defense of Catholic teaching, teaching that is often cast in confusion by papal statements or messages.
Strickland’s more public positions on moral and doctrinal issues include urging Francis to deny Holy Communion to former U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi over her support of legal abortion, accusing the pope of a “program of undermining the Deposit of Faith,” and condemning the prominent pro-LGBT “blasphemy” of Father James Martin, S.J.
He has also been notably forthright on moral controversies in U.S. politics and culture, including the Biden administration’s spying on Catholics and public displays by self-described “Satanic” groups. This summer, he spoke at a protest against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ hosting an anti-Catholic drag queen troupe called the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” who style themselves as grotesque nuns.
But the apostolic visitation is believed to have been particularly prompted by a May 13 X/Twitter post in which he explicitly stated: “I reject his [Pope Francis’] program of undermining the Deposit of Faith.”
Strickland’s statement came about due to doubling down on his prior rejection of a view held by Catholic podcaster Patrick Coffin – namely that Pope Francis is not the real pope. The bishop wrote:
Please allow me to clarify regarding, ‘Patrick Coffin has challenged the authenticity of the Pope Francis.’ If this is accurate I disagree, I believe Pope Francis is the Pope but it is time for me to say that I reject his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith. Follow Jesus.
Strickland’s original message had been to support the Magis Center, which had issued a public statement distancing itself from Coffin due to his views regarding the vacancy of the papal throne.
Father Robert Spitzer, S.J., president of the Center, had given an interview with Coffin before learning of Coffin’s position. Spitzer subsequently withdrew his connection from Coffin publicly. Bishop Strickland supported this action, saying that “I join Fr Spitzer and fully endorse his stance regarding any statements from Patrick Coffin regarding Pope Francis.”
Shortly after, the Tyler-based prelate then issued a message warning about “conflicting voices” and urging instead that Catholics “always turn to Jesus.”
While speaking on his eponymous show in July, Strickland declared himself undeterred by any attempts to censor his proclamation of the truths of the Catholic faith, saying it is a “joy” to continue to “share the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
“I know they won’t stop you and they won’t stop me. And we do it with love, and charity and clarity, and with humility, always ready to be corrected. But when we’re speaking of the truth of Jesus Christ, there is no correction. The world can try and shout us down, but it won’t work.”
This story is developing….
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