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A Texas bishop critical of Pope Francis in the Vatican's crosshairs

The pope is considering removing Joseph Strickland from the Tyler, Texas, diocese for his criticisms and attitudes such as attending protests against the Dodgers' blasphemous act last summer.

Montaje con imágenes del papa Francisco y el obispo de Tyler Joseph Strickland.

(Cordon Press/Wikimedia Commons

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The Vatican is considering removing Bishop Joseph Strickland from the diocese of Tyler, Texas. Strickland has maintained a critical attitude towards decisions made by Pope Francis, especially regarding doctrine and tradition and his openness to the LGBT movement, even accusing the pope of "undermining the Deposit of Faith." Strickland's participation in protests against the Los Angeles Dodgers' invitation of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to one of their games resulted in an investigation, called an "apostolic visit," per the Vatican. Cardinal Gehrard Müller, prefect emeritus of the Doctrine of the Faith, came to Strickland's defense, accusing the pope of "harassing and intimidating good bishops."

A rare 'apostolic visit' in June

Although his relationship with the Vatican has been tense for some time, Strickland's leadership in organizing a march to Dodger Stadium in mid-June protesting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag group which performs blasphemous acts against the Catholic faith, earned him an unusual "apostolic visit" ordered by the Vatican. Previously, the head of the Tyler, Texas, diocese had already been privately reprimanded by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, for his criticism of Pope Francis and his concern regarding the progressive drift of the Catholic Church.

Information about the pope's intention to ask Strickland for his voluntary resignation emerged in mid-September after a meeting between Pope Francis, Pierre and Archbishop Robert Prevost, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops. Strickland indicated that he has no information about this possible situation, though he did say that he would not leave his position voluntarily if the Pope requested it, but he would obey if the Vatican ordered him to do so, according to America Magazine.

As a basic principle, I cannot renounce the mandate given to me by Pope Benedict XVI. Of course that mandate can be rescinded by Pope Francis, but I cannot voluntarily abandon the flock of which I have been charged as successor of the apostles.

Pope Francis accused a group of American bishops of being 'reactionaries'

Many suggest that the pope's criticism of the American Church last month was directed especially at Strickland. During a meeting with the Jesuits at WYD in Lisbon, Francis accused a sector of the national bishops of being "reactionary" and of supplanting faith with ideologies.

You have been to the United States and you say that you have experienced a climate of closure. Yes, I believe this climate can be experienced in some situations. But then the true tradition is lost and ideologies are turned in search of support and support of any kind. In other words, ideology supplants faith, belonging to a sector of the Church replaces belonging to the Church. When one leaves doctrine in life to replace it with an ideology, you lose like in war.

Harsh accusations by Cardinal Müller against Pope Francis: 'abuse of power' regarding Strickland

Since rumors began about his possible dismissal, numerous bishops and even cardinals have publicly expressed their support for Strickland. The latest one, Cardinal Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, harshly attacked Pope Francis for his attitude towards the American bishop in statements to Kath.net:

It is terrible what is being done to Bishop Strickland, an abuse of office against the divine right of the episcopacy. A bishop can only be deposed by the Pope according to the dictates of justice if he has been guilty of something bad (heresy, schism, apostasy, a crime or totally non-priestly behavior), for example, the pseudo-blessing of people of both sexes or of sex in extramarital relations that offends God and defrauds people of their salvation.
Arbitrary dismissal as bishop of a diocese in which a bishop is appointed by Christ himself as his own shepherd undermines the authority of the Pope, as historically occurred with the unworthy abuse of office under the Avignon papacy. According to Catholic doctrine, the Pope is not at all the Lord of the Church, but only, as representative of Christ for the universal Church, the first servant of his Lord. The Pope does not have the authority of Christ to harass and intimidate good bishops according to the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd.