The Vatican announced on Saturday that the Pope had dismissed Joseph Strickland, a conservative American bishop whom he had repeatedly criticized over his papacy. Joseph Strickland was appointed Bishop of Tyler, Texas, by former Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
It’s a rare decision. Pope Francis has fired American Bishop Joseph Strickland, a prominent conservative who was removed from office after repeatedly criticizing his papacy, the Vatican announced on Saturday, November 11.
The Vatican announced in a press release, a few weeks after Pope Francis sent two American bishops to the diocese of Joseph E. Strickland, that “the Holy Father informed the Pastoral Government of the Diocese of Tyler (USA) Joseph Strickland.” Strickland, Texas.
The Bishop of Austin, Joe Vasquez, has been appointed apostolic administrator of the diocese, and this text continues without further details.
According to commentators, it is very rare for a bishop to be directly relieved of responsibility, rather than encouraged or ordered to resign.
In a blog post on his website in September, Archbishop Strickland responded to rumors that the Vatican was encouraging him to resign. “I cannot resign as Bishop of Tyler because to do so would mean abandoning the flock under my care,” he wrote. “I have also stated that I will respect the authority of Pope Francis if he removes me as Bishop of Tyler.
Joseph Strickland had no immediate comment on his dismissal, which was announced Saturday while it was still early in the morning in the United States.
“I love Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church he founded,” he wrote in his blog in September. “My only desire is to tell the truth and live God’s will to the best of my ability.”
One of the most vocal critics of Pope Francis
The Vatican did not specify the reason for the apostolic visit this summer or its results. Joseph Strickland wrote that the two bishops spent a week having discussions, including with him, about the situation in the diocese.
The Texas bishop, appointed by former Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, was one of Pope Francis’ most prominent critics.
The 86-year-old Argentine pope seeks to make the church more sympathetic and open to different points of view. But he faced intense opposition from his critics, especially in the United States, who accused him of sowing confusion and failing to respect the basic beliefs of Catholics.
In a letter published at the beginning of the year on X (formerly Twitter), Joseph Strickland accused the Pope of “undermining the deposit of faith.”
Many of his critics criticize Pope Francis for not being assertive enough on the issue of abortion and for being too sympathetic to homosexuals and divorced people.
At a meeting of Jesuits in Lisbon, Pope Francis denounced the “extremely reactionary stance” of some Catholics in the United States. He said that looking to the past “is not necessary and it is necessary to understand that there is an appropriate development in the way we deal with matters of faith and morals.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also announced the decision to dismiss Joseph Strickland, in a statement as brief as the Vatican’s.
The number of Catholics in the Diocese of Tyler is more than 120,000, out of a total population of more than 1.4 million people, according to the conference.
For its part, the diocese published a statement on its website in which it confirmed the Vatican’s announcement, and added: “Our work as a Catholic church in northeast Texas continues.”
With Agence France-Presse