TYLER, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — Reacting to Bishop Joseph Strickland’s removal from office by Pope Francis, the former head of the U.S. bishops’ conference Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has stated that the apostolic visitation into the Diocese of Tyler decided that it was “not feasible” for Strickland to remain as bishop of the diocese.
WATCH: My exclusive interview with Bishop Strickland, where I ask him all the questions on everyone’s heart in the midst of his unjust cancellation.
— John-Henry Westen (@JhWesten) November 12, 2023
Cardinal DiNardo’s statement came November 11, some hours after the Vatican publicized that Pope Francis had “relieved” Bishop Strickland from the leadership of the Diocese of Tyler, placing Austin’s Bishop Joe Vasquez into the role of temporary administrator of the diocese.
DiNardo leads the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas, of which Strickland’s Diocese of Tyler is a suffragan. Referencing the apostolic visitation which Pope Francis ordered into Bishop Strickland in June, DiNardo stated that the visiting bishops “conducted an exhaustive inquiry into all aspects of the governance and leadership of the Diocese of Tyler by its Ordinary, Bishop Joseph Strickland.”
No results of the visitation have been issued to the public, and as recently as September 20, Strickland stated he had been given no reason for the visitation, nor had he heard any results from the visit.
But DiNardo stated that the visitation – conducted by Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, New Jersey, and the controversial emeritus Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona – had ruled against Strickland. The cardinal wrote:
As a result of the Visitation, the recommendation was made to the Holy Father that the continuation in office of Bishop Strickland was not feasible. After months of careful consideration by the Dicastery for Bishops and the Holy Father, the decision was reached that the resignation of Bishop Strickland should be requested.
However neither DiNardo, nor the Holy See Press Office, has provided clarity on what alleged issues were supposedly identified in the visitation – a visitation which also took place with surprising speed.
DiNardo continued, re-iterating the details surrounding Strickland’s removal:
Having been presented with that request on November 9, 2023, Bishop Strickland declined to resign from office. Thereafter, on November 11, 2023, the Holy Father removed Bishop Strickland from the Office of Bishop of Tyler.
The cardinal – who led the USCCB from 2016 through 2019 – asked for prayers for situation:
Pending more permanent arrangements for the Diocese of Tyler, the Holy Father has, at the same time, appointed Bishop Joe Vasquez, Bishop of Austin, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Tyler. Let us keep Bishop Strickland, the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Tyler, and Bishop Vasquez in our prayers.
In his own preliminary response, Bishop Strickland told LifeSite’s John-Henry Westen that “I stand by all the things that were listed as complaints against me. I know I didn’t implement Traditionis Custodes [Pope Francis’ decree restricting the Traditional Latin Mass] because I can’t starve out part of my flock.”
Strickland added that “I’d do it the same way again. I feel very much at peace in the Lord and the Truth that He died for.”
“The #Church exists not to redefine matters of faith,” said Bishop Joseph Strickland in August, “but to safeguard the Deposit of Faith as it has been handed down to us from Our Lord Himself through the apostles & the saints & martyrs.”
+Strickland is now removed by #PopeFrancis pic.twitter.com/87vlbgsYM6
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) November 11, 2023
The Diocese of Tyler’s official statement on the sudden removal of its bishop noted that “[o]ur work as the Catholic Church in northeast Texas continues.”
The diocesan statement added:
Our mission is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to foster an authentic Christian community, and to serve the needs of all people with compassion and love. We strive to deepen our faith, promote the common good, and create a welcoming environment for all to encounter the loving God – Father, Son, and Spirit.
During this time of transition, we pray that God may continue to abundantly bless and strengthen the Church and God’s holy, faithful people here and around the world.
DiNardo, who has previously been sharply criticized for his handling of clerical sex abuse cases and has notably kept priests accused of abuse in active ministry, appears to be the first U.S. bishop to issue a statement after Strickland’s shock removal.
Bishop Strickland, 65, 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.
As it stands, Pope Francis has thus removed the bishop of one of the most flourishing dioceses in the U.S., without an official reason being provided.
For respectful communication to Cardinal Christopher Pierre (Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.):
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1 202 333 7121
Fax: +1 202 337 4036