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Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Strickland has shared with LifeSiteNews a letter sent to him by Bishop Athanasius Schneider encouraging and thanking him for his witness to the Catholic faith. Bishop Schneider says that it is because of this faith that Bishop Strickland is now threatened with being removed from his diocese in Tyler, Texas, but insists that future popes will thank him for his fidelity. The full letter, dated August 2, 2023, is printed below.
(LifeSiteNews) — Praised be Jesus Christ!
Your Excellency, Bishop Strickland, dear and esteemed brother in the episcopate!
It is for me a privilege and a joy to express to you all my gratitude and appreciation for your intrepid dedication to uncompromisingly keep, transmit, and defend the Catholic faith, which the apostles handed over to the Church and with which all the generations of Catholics, especially our ancestors, our fathers and mothers, our priests and religious sisters-catechists, were themselves nurtured. In all truth we can apply to you, dear Bishop Strickland, what St. Basil once stated in his time: “The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers.” (Ep. 243)
Let me share with you the following highly timely words of the same great and saint bishop:
The doctrines of true religion are overthrown. The laws of the Church are in confusion. The ambition of men, who have no fear of God, rushes into high posts in the Church, and exalted office is now publicly known as the prize of impiety. The result is that the worse a man blasphemes, the fitter the people think him to be a bishop. Clerical dignity is a thing of the past. There is a complete lack of men shepherding the Lord’s flock with knowledge. Churchmen in authority are afraid to speak, for those of them who have reached power by human interest are the slaves of those to whom they owe their advancement. Faith is uncertain; souls are drenched in ignorance because adulterators of the word imitate the truth. The mouths of true believers are dumb, while every blasphemous tongue wags free; holy things are trodden under foot. (Ep. 92)
We are living indeed in such a time, as described by St. Basil with such a striking similarity.
The words of St. Basil in his Letter to Pope St. Damasus, in which he was asking the pope’s help and efficacious intervention, are fully applicable to our situation today:
The wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes in the Church and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. (Ep. 90)
Dear Bishop Strickland, unlike St. Basil who addressed Pope Damasus, you don’t have, unfortunately, the real chance to address Pope Francis in order that he may help you to keep zealously the holy traditions of the past. On the contrary, the Holy See put you now under scrutiny and threatens you with intimidations and deprivation of the episcopal care of your flock in Tyler, basically only for the one reason, that you, like St. Basil, St. Athanasius, and many other confessor-bishops in history, are keeping the traditions of the Fathers; only because you are not silencing the truth, only because you are not behaving like not a few of the bishops of our day, who – using the words of St. Gregory of Nazianzus – “are serving the times and demands of the masses, leaving their boat to the wind which happens to blow at the moment, and like chameleons, know how to give their word many colors” (De vita sua (Carmina) 2, 11).”
However, dear Bishop Strickland, you have the happiness, that all the popes of the past, all the courageous confessor-bishops of the past, all the Catholic martyrs, who in the words of St. Theresa of Avila, were “resolved to undergo a thousand deaths for any one article of the creed” (The Life of Teresa of Jesus, 25:12), are supporting and encouraging you. Furthermore, the little ones in the Church pray for you and support you; they are an ever growing, yet small, army of lay faithful – in the United States as well as all over the world – who were put on the periphery by high ranking churchmen, even in the Vatican, whose main concerns seems to be pleasing the world and promoting their naturalistic agenda and the approval of the sin of homosexual activity under the guise of welcoming and inclusion.
Dear Bishop Strickland, thank you, that you are resolved “to serve the Lord, and not the time,” as St. Athanasius once admonished the bishops (Ep. ad Dracontium). I pray that more bishops in our day may, like you, raise their voice in defence of the Catholic Faith, providing thereby the spiritual nourishment and consolation for many Catholics, who feel themselves often abandoned like orphans.
For sure, future popes will thank you for your intrepid fidelity to the Catholic Faith and to its holy traditions, by which you contributed to the honor of the Apostolic See, which was partly darkened and stained by our unfavourable time.
St. Joseph, your patron, the “good and faithful servant,” be always on your side and the Blessed Virgin Mary, our sweet heavenly Mother, the destroyer of all heresies, be your strength and refuge.
With deep esteem, united in the holy battle for the Faith and in prayers,
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