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Pope Francis removes Bishop Strickland from office

November 11, 2023

On November 11, the Holy See Press Office announced that Pope Francis has removed Bishop Joseph Strickland from the office of bishop of the Diocese of Tyler (Texas). The Pontiff appointed Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin as the diocese’s apostolic administrator.

“I’m saddened for the harm to the faithful but at peace in His Truth, stay Jesus Strong,” Bishop Strickland wrote in an email to The Wall Street Journal. Asked about his plans, he replied, “Just praying for now.”

“I stand by all the things that were listed as complaints against me,” Bishop Strickland said in a phone interview with LifeSiteNews. “I know I didn’t implement Traditionis Custodes [the Pope’s 2021 letter on the traditional Latin Mass] because I can’t starve out part of my flock.”

He added, “I’d do it the same way again. I feel very much at peace in the Lord and the truth that He died for.”

Although the Vatican did not give a specific reason for the move, Bishop Strickland has become prominent because of his public criticism of the Pope’s leadership. The prelate tweeted in May, “I believe Pope Francis is the Pope but it is time for me to say that I rejected his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith.” On October 3, he decried “blasphemies emanating from Rome.” On October 31, he said, “One of the most frustrating things coming out of the Vatican, and it’s supported at least by Pope Francis, is the attack on the sacred.”

Bishop Strickland’s removal follows an apostolic visitation conducted by Bishops Gerald Kicanas and Dennis Sullivan at the Dicastery for Bishops’ behest.

In September, Bishop Strickland vowed not to resign from office if requested to do so. He did decline a Vatican request for his resignation, but accepted the Pope’s decision to remove him from office.

Statements

The Diocese of Tyler is a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said that “in June of this year, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, directed that an Apostolic Visitation of the Diocese of Tyler should be conducted. Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas of Tucson were appointed to conduct the Visitation. The Prelates conducted an exhaustive inquiry into all aspects of the governance and leadership of the Diocese of Tyler by its Ordinary, Bishop Joseph Strickland.”

Cardinal DiNardo added:

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. 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.

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.

“Our work as the Catholic Church in northeast Texas continues,” the Diocese of Tyler stated in an unsigned announcement. “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.”

The statement continued:

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.

“This morning it was announced at the Vatican that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has removed Bishop Joseph E. Strickland from the office of Bishop of Tyler, Texas,” Bishop Vásquez said in his own statement. “With that, the Holy Father has appointed me, as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Tyler, pending the appointment of a new Bishop of Tyler.”

“I accept the Holy Father’s trust in me and ask your prayers as I take on this additional responsibility,” he continued. “Over the next few weeks, I will be travelling to the Diocese of Tyler to be present to the clergy, diocesan staff, and lay faithful and to assess their needs.”

Bishop Vásquez added:

Know that I remain present to you as your Bishop, in person, in prayer, and through the Vicar General and other officials of the Diocese of Austin. I ask that you keep the Holy Father in your prayers as he discerns the next Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler. I also ask you to join me in prayer for the people of the Diocese of Tyler during this time of transition.

Background

Born in 1958, Bishop Strickland was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Dallas in 1985. When the Diocese of Tyler was established from the territory of three Texas dioceses, including Dallas, Father Strickland became a priest of the new Diocese of Tyler. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Tyler.

Removals of bishops from office have been from office have been relatively rare in the history of the Church. Bishop Strickland is the ninth bishop removed over the last three decades:

  • In 1995, Pope St. John Paul II removed Bishop Jacques Gaillot from the office of bishop of Evreux (France)
  • In March 2011, Pope Benedict XVI removed Bishop Jean-Claude Makaya Loembe from the office of bishop of Pointe-Noire (Congo)
  • In May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI removed Bishop William Morris from the office of bishop of Toowoomba (Australia)
  • In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI removed Archbishop Róbert Bezák, CSSR, from the office of archbishop of Trnava (Slovakia)
  • In 2014, Pope Francis removed Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano from the office of bishop of Ciudad del Este (Paraguay)
  • In 2018, Pope Francis removed Bishop Martin Holley from the office of bishop of Memphis (Tennessee)
  • In 2019, Pope Francis removed Archbishop Anthony Apuron, OFM Cap, from the office of archbishop of Agaña (Guam) following his canonical conviction for sexually abusing minors. Despite the prelate’s conviction for multiple acts of sexual abuse, Pope Francis permitted him to minister outside of Guam, as long as he does not wear the distinctive insignia of a bishop.
  • In 2022, Pope Francis removed Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres from the office of bishop of Arecibo (Puerto Rico)

 


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  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 12, 2023 5:23 PM ET USA

    "Do not reprove the arrogant, lest they hate you; reprove the wise, and they will love you." [Proverbs 9:8]

  • Posted by: mhains8491 - Nov. 11, 2023 7:31 PM ET USA

    In his wisdom God sent Saint John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict XVI to strengthen the faithful for the coming trials and tribulations under Francis. Be not afraid John Paul the Great told us, Christ can undo the damage by Francis and his rotten allies. Christ needs us to remain faithful to the deposit of faith, from persecution from both within and from outside the Church. As Christ endured his agony in the garden, scourging at the pillar and crucifixion so must Christ’s bride the Church.

  • Posted by: mhains8491 - Nov. 11, 2023 6:54 PM ET USA

    More rotten fruits from the Francis Pontificate.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 11, 2023 1:32 PM ET USA

    Vatican politics can be an ugly affair. I suppose this is an example of "social justice", not true justice. Orthodox Catholics must stand together in this time of distress. We are assured by reliable sources that a remnant of the true religion will remain on earth no matter the injustices committed against it. It is a fundamental principle of the Catholic faith that a Catholic must obey a properly-formed conscience. Bishop Strickland did just that, and I thank him for standing against evil.

  • Posted by: miketimmer499385 - Nov. 11, 2023 11:47 AM ET USA

    Perhaps Bishop Strickland has been selected by God to expose in the most decisive way the destructive mess that Pope Francis is making of the universal Church. At the very least US catholics are going to create a bottom up pressure described by Jeff Mirus in his most recent post to decide what kind of Catholic Church we are going to be...either faithful or ever at sea in a continually rocking boat too small to withstand the tidal waves striking it from side to side. Peace to Bishop Strickland.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Nov. 11, 2023 11:32 AM ET USA

    What a terrible pope. Such a shame that he was put in charge of the Church.