Authored by Jana J. Pruet via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, was forcibly removed from his office by Pope Francis on Saturday morning.
“They had the authority to remove me from diocesan governance, but I encourage those upset or confused by the development to pray for the pope and not to leave the Church,” Bishop Strickland wrote on Facebook on Monday morning.
The news from the Vatican shocked and angered many who supported the 65-year-old bishop’s respect of traditional Catholic teachings.
Bishop Strickland, who has served as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Tyler since 2012, has been outspoken in his criticisms of Pope Francis’ progressive views on the LGBTQ community within the church.
In June, Pope Francis ordered an investigation into the pastoral governance of the Tyler Diocese by Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, New Jersey, and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona.
“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,” according to a statement by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
On Nov. 9, the bishop’s resignation was requested, but Bishop Strickland declined to resign his office.
Two days later, the Vatican announced that Bishop Strickland had been “relieved of pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler.” No reason was given for the bishop’s dismissal.
The pope appointed Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin to serve as Apolostic Administrator of the Diocese of Tyler.
“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,” the Tyler Diocese wrote in a statement.
In an interview with John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, Bishop Strickland said he believes his removal was due to his support of the “truth of the gospel.” LifeSiteNews is a pro-life Catholic news website based in Canada.
Bishop Strickland said he has turned to prayer during this “storm” in his life.
“The rosary has taken on a life for me that is truly amazing,” he said.
The bishop said he does not fully blame the pope for his removal, pointing to the “many forces working at him and influencing him to make these kinds of decisions.”
“The only answer I have to that is because the forces in the church right now don’t want the truth of the gospel,” Bishop Strickland told Mr. Westen.
“There are people in the Church, rather than glorifying in the truth of Christ, they want to delete significant portions of Sacred Scripture and say, ‘Oh, we got that wrong,’ or ‘We’re just going to ignore it.'”
“[The Truth], it’s perennial, it’s everlasting, it’s glorious,” the bishop continued. “And if you want it to change, then I’m the problem.”
“He [Jesus] doesn’t morph into a different being than He was when He died on the cross and rose for us. He is the same Lord; He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and those who want to change that, for a day, in terms of human history, we have to live through this day, but it’s a moment that will pass, and the truth will prevail,” he said.
Throughout the interview, Bishop Strickland remained steadfast in his faith that God would see him through and that he would continue serving his faith community.
Michel J. Matt, editor of The Remnant, a national Catholic newspaper, reacted to Bishop Strickland’s removal on X, saying, “This is total war. Francis is a clear and present danger not only to Catholics the world over but also to the whole world itself. It appears now that he is actively trying to bury fidelity to the Church of Jesus Christ. Let him be anathema.”
Open to Gay Marriage
Pope Francis has made surprising public statements such as, “Who am I to judge them?” in response to a question about gay priests dating back to his first papal news conference in July 2013.
Last month, the pope suggested being open to priests performing gay marriages in the Catholic Church, in response to five conservative cardinals who challenged him to affirm the church’s teaching on homosexuality ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops at the Vatican. Earlier this year, the pope had stated that while homosexuality is not a crime, it is a sin.
The faith has long opposed the Church recognizing gay marriages.
“The Church has a very clear understanding of marriage: an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to procreation,” Pope Francis wrote in a response to the cardinals. “Only this union can be called marriage.”
“However, in our relationships with people, we must not lose the pastoral charity, which should permeate all our decisions and attitudes,” he continued. “The defense of objective truth is not the only expression of this charity; it also includes kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement. Therefore, we cannot be judges who only deny, reject, and exclude.”
Pope Francis added that there is no need to turn such pastoral charity into the norm. Rather, the issue could be dealt with on an individual basis, adding that the “life of the Church flows through many channels other than the normative ones.”
The letter was a reversal from the Vatican’s position in 2021, when Pope Francis said that the church could not bless same-sex unions because God “does not and cannot bless sin.”
The Epoch Times reached out to Bishop Strickland for comment. “At the moment, I’m still consulting with my God,” he said. “Will let you know when I will grant another interview. Remain Blessed!”