TYLER, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — The morning’s news of Pope Francis removing the bishop of Tyler – Bishop Joseph Strickland – has made international waves and caused instant outrage amongst Catholics, in a fallout, the scale of which, has likely taken even the Vatican by surprise.
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
In the Holy See Press Office’s daily bulletin on November 11, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had “relieved” Bishop Joseph Strickland of the governance of his Diocese of Tyler.
The true import of the Vatican’s brief statement was not lost on the international media. By late afternoon Saturday, numerous major outlets across the globe had reported on the story, with varying degrees of favorability for either Strickland or Francis. The list includes:
- BBC Pope Francis fires Texan bishop after criticism of reforms
- CNN: Pope removes outspoken conservative Texas bishop after investigation
- REUTERS: In very rare move, Pope dismisses conservative US bishop Strickland
- AP: In a rare move, Pope Francis forcibly removed a Texas bishop who had called him too progressive
- FORBES: Pope Francis Ousts Conservative Texas Bishop After Frequent Attacks
- NY Times: Texas Bishop Loudly Critical of Pope Francis Is Removed
- NewsWeek: Pope Sparks Outrage After Firing Anti-LGBTQ Texas Bishop: ‘Dictator’
The Catholic media was not remiss in covering the news either, with the more heterodox outlets’ various reports welcoming the Pope’s move against Strickland, who has emerged as a recipient of regular criticism in the pages of many “Catholic” media outlets, for his stance promoting Catholic teaching and Tradition.
All outlets, Catholic and secular, noted Bishop Strickland’s vocal stance in proclaiming truths which are often posited in juxtaposition to the statements made by Pope Francis. Indeed, Strickland is known 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.
Such a clear, and unwavering stance has put the Texas bishop on an increasingly public path, with news outlets and clerics alike noting the discrepancy between his and Pope Francis’ increasingly confusing or heterodox teachings.
The New York Times dubbed Strickland “one of the loudest American voices against Pope Francis within his own church.” Francis removing Strickland was described by the Times thus:
In a rare move that is a measure both of Bishop Strickland’s outspoken criticism of the supreme pontiff of his faith and Francis’ frustration with ultraconservatives in the United States who have emerged as the financial center, and media megaphone, of the resistance to his papacy, the pope removed the prelate from his post.
Strickland, the outlet added, is “now a martyr to frustrated traditionalists,” while the BBC wrote that Strickland’s forced removal “all follows significant attempts made by the Pope to make the Church more progressive during his papacy.”
Forbes described Strickland’s promotion of Catholic teaching as “his beliefs,” while the AP referred to Strickland as “a fierce critic of the pontiff and [who] has come to symbolize the polarization within the U.S. Catholic hierarchy.
The major import of the Pope’s move is also due in part to the un-precedented nature of taking direct action to remove a bishop. It comes after Strickland was subject to an apostolic visitation in June – about which, as recently as September 20, Strickland stated he had been given no reason for the visitation, nor had he heard any results from it.
In a statement November 11, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo – head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas, of which Strickland’s Diocese of Tyler is a suffragan – declared the visitation had judged that it was “not feasible” for Strickland to remain as bishop of the diocese.
However, even at this late stage, DiNardo did not give any details about the visitation, its purpose or findings.
I now look forward to @Pontifex removing all those German bishops who by word and deed have illustrated that they do not adhere to the fullness of the apostolic faith.
Consistency matters. Or it ought to. https://t.co/dmV1f1okDW
— Samuel Gregg (@DrSamuelGregg) November 11, 2023
The striking nature of the Pope’s move has been noted especially by thousands of Catholics, who have taken to social media to express outrage against the Pope’s decision and support for Strickland.
“Jorge Bergoglio has no valid grounds to remove Bishop Strickland from the Diocese of Tyler,” wrote the U.K.’s Deacon Donnelly. “The usurper Bergoglio is a dictator, not a pope.”
Jorge Bergoglio has no valid grounds to remove Bishop Strickland from the Diocese of Tyler
The usurper Bergoglio is a dictator, not a pope
We all know why Bishop Joseph Strickland has been removed, because he is a Catholic bishop, not a Bergoglian sham bishop
I hope… https://t.co/7fpsm7O8wN
— Nick Donnelly (@ProtecttheFaith) November 11, 2023
The former U.S. Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, described Francis’ action as “as a cowardly form of authoritarianism, which in no way fits with Bergoglio’s rants about “welcoming” and “inclusiveness.”
The removal of His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Strickland, especially after the failure to ambush him with the Apostolic Visitation, appears as a cowardly form of authoritarianism, which in no way fits with Bergoglio’s rants about “welcoming” and “inclusiveness.”
Seeing the… pic.twitter.com/7bp2AxpK2D
— Arcivescovo Carlo Maria Viganò (@CarloMVigano) November 11, 2023
Theologian and author, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, told LifeSiteNews that the Pope’s action vindicated the book written by Henry Sire:
Years ago Henry Sire called Pope Francis ‘the dictator pope.’ Time and again this evaluation has been vindicated, and never more so than when the pope deposes a bishop without due process, against canon law, and for no imaginable grave wrongdoing.
He has combined the “I am the Tradition” mentality of Pius IX with the motto of Juan Perón, “To the friend, everything. To the enemy, not even justice!,” and added his peculiar anti-American and anti-traditionalist venom. We must beg the Lord to deliver us from this abuser of the papal office and of the people of God.
The Spectator’s associate editor Damian Thompson excoriated Pope Francis for removing the Texas bishop, while adding that the Pope’s time “is thankfully running out.”
Strickland is kicked out of his see while Uncle Ted’s lying collaborators receive cardinal’s hats, Chinese Communist Party thugs are embraced as bishops and a rapist enjoys papal protection. It’s the desperate act of a Latin American dictator whose time is thankfully running out. pic.twitter.com/luRpBNSqsL
— Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) November 11, 2023
Bp Strickland is a forerunner of a new type of Catholic…which is really the old type. One who lives in Truth, speaks Truth, and is willing to suffer for Truth.
His persecution will only open the door for countless others to rise up. Thank you, good Bishop! pic.twitter.com/EXfjSxeD0B
— Dr. Thomas Carr O.P. (@ArdorNew) November 11, 2023
A number of priests have expressed their support for the beleaguered Bishop Strickland, yet so far the only prelate to do likewise is Astana’s Bishop Athanasius Schneider.
Writing on LifeSiteNews, the equally prominent bishop described the removal of Strickland as “a black day for the Catholic Church of our day.”
“We are witnessing a blatant injustice towards a bishop who did his duty in preaching and defending with parrhesia the immutable Catholic faith and morals and in promoting the sacredness of the liturgy, especially in the immemorial traditional rite of the Mass,” Schneider wrote.
“May the sacrifice, which Our Lord asked from Bishop Strickland, bear plenty spiritual fruits for time and eternity,” continued Schneider.
There has been no further comment on the situation from the Vatican, the U.S. Nuncio Cardinal Christophe Pierre, or the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops. Meanwhile, the Diocese of Tyler ends the day without the leadership of the bishop who led the diocese since November 2012.