Pope Francis Dismisses Right-Wing Darling And Critic Bishop John Strickland

Pope Francis has made the rare decision to sack ultra-conservative critic Bishop John Strickland. The dismissal comes months after the Vatican investigated Strickland and his diocese, after which it became clear that he could not remain in the role. However, the Bishop reportedly refused to resign when ordered, which led to the Pope personally dismissing him.

Strickland has been one of the biggest critics of Pope Francis and opposed his efforts towards the LGBTQ+ community. He has also slammed US President Joe Biden for his stance on abortion rights and even stood for anti-vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Pope Has Dismissed Bishop Strickland

Pope Francis: Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter's Square

The Vatican has officially confirmed in a statement that Pope Francis dismissed Bishop John Strickland of Tyler, Texas. The statement gave no reasoning for the Pope’s decision, but it could be tied to an investigation into Strickland and his diocese earlier this year. Strickland has built a reputation for being a prominent conservative of the Vatican and US politics.

The Bishop’s dismissal is a rare and somewhat extraordinary measure taken by the Vatican. History has shown that the Catholic Church prefers to ask problematic bishops to resign from the posts instead of outrightly removing them. However, when Strickland was asked to resign on Thursday last week, the Bishop refused to do so, a promise he’d made earlier this year when asked about the possibility.

The Vatican statement read, “The Holy Father has relieved from the pastoral governance of the diocese of Tyler (US) Joseph E. Strickland.” It also informed the public that Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin has been selected as apostolic administrator of the diocese for the time being.

He Was Investigated Earlier By The Church

Strickland’s sacking from his diocese comes a few months after the Vatican launched an apostolic visitation for him in June. The “apostolic visitation” is simply an investigation into the person’s management of the diocese and doctrines being taught to the congregation.

The visit was ordered by the Pope and executed by Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas of Tucson. Cardinal Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, Metropolitan Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, released a statement on Strickland’s investigation and dismissal.

DiNardo said that following the results of the visitation, it became clear to the Vatican that it wasn’t “feasible” for Strickland to continue in his role. He claimed that the probe into the Bishop covered “all aspects of governance and leadership” in the diocese.

He’s Heavily Criticized The Pope

Pope Francis celebrates the Easter Mass in Vatican - 09 Apr 2023

Strickland was first appointed to the diocese by the late Pope Benedict in 2012 and has been a heavy critic of Pope Francis since his ascension. Earlier this year, the Bishop claimed on X, formerly Twitter, that he’s completely rejected the Pope’s “program undermining the Deposit of Faith.”

Strickland has emphasized his opposition to the Pope’s efforts towards the LGBTQ+ community in the Catholic Church. Shortly before the October synod, he shared a letter talking about an “evil and false message” that has “invaded” the church.

Strickland was also a prominent figure during the 2022 scandal with anti-abortion priest Frank Pavone. When the Vatican defrocked Pavone for making “blasphemous” social media posts, the Bishop was one of few to defend his actions publicly.

His tweet on X at the time read, “The blasphemy is that this holy priest is canceled while an evil president promotes the denial of truth and the murder of the unborn at every turn, Vatican officials promote immorality and denial of the deposit of faith and priests promote gender confusion devastating lives…evil.”

Strickland Also Opposed President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden celebrates the 74th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation

Pope Francis isn’t the only figure Strickland has heavily criticized on social media. He has also called US President Joe Biden an “evil president” for his supportive stance on abortion rights and severally criticized his policies for the country.

Strickland has made his opinion of Biden clear on social media, especially X, since the president’s win in 2020. When the US Conference of Catholic Bishops congratulated Biden for his win, Strickland tweeted a rant against the Biden-Harris administration.

It read, “A dark cloud has descended on this nation when the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak in unison in support of a Biden-Harris administration that supports the slaughter of innocents by abortion for all 9 months of pregnancy.”

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