July 15, 2024

A conservative Catholic bishop Pope Francis removed as the ordinary for the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, sat down for an interview with LifeSite’s John-Henry Westin six hours after his Nov. 11 sacking, blaming his ouster on forces in the Church opposed to the Gospel.

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“Do you have any idea as to why this was done?” asked Westin.

“The only answer I have to that is because forces in the church right now don’t want the truth of the gospel,” said Bishop Joseph Strickland, who retains his faculties as a bishop but is no longer in the prelate in charge of the diocese, which is now under the administration of Bishop Joe Vasquez, the bishop of Austin, Texas.

Strickland said these forces that contributed to his removal are opposed to continuity with the Church’s traditional practices and teachings.

“They want it changed. They want it ignored. They want to be rid of the truth that is gloriously not going to go away,” the bishop said.

“The truth that is Jesus Christ, his mystical body, which is the Church, all the wonders that the martyrs died for and the saints lived for through almost 2000 years since Christ died and rose so and again,” he said.

The bishop said he accepted that the Holy Father had the full authority to remove him from his chair.

“He is the only one with that authority, but there are many forces working at him and influencing him to make these kinds of decisions,” he said. “I know it becomes frustrating.”

Strickland, now Tyler’s bishop emeritus, first walked on the national stage when he led a procession to protest the Los Angeles Dodgers honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag queen troupe that mocked Catholic religious with costumes and sexual entendre. 

Locally, the Willis, Texas-based, Knights of the Republic, a Catholic mens organization announced that it has planned a rally in front of the Tyler’s diocesan chancellery. 

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Strickland x-quote-posted his support for the protest

“I pray that this effort is prayerful, respectful and focused on Jesus,” hje said. “He is the only support I need and I feel the profound embrace of His Sacred Heart. I appreciate the vigorous faith this is inspired by but please remember I am nothing, Jesus is everything. Viva Cristo Rey!”

Strickland championed the concerns of traditional Catholics

Deacon Nick Donnelly, a Lancaster, England-based cleric and author, using the pope’s name, Jorge Bergoglio, told RedState he sees the specter of heresy in Strickland’s sacking.

“The removal of Bishop Strickland by Jorge Bergoglio seems to signal a new phase of his heretical revolution in the Catholic Church — the illegal removal of a bishop for publicly challenging his agenda,” he said. 

“Normally a pope will only remove a bishop for serious crimes, moral misbehavior, or heresy, but things have come to pass in the Catholic Church when a bishop has been removed for upholding Catholic doctrine,” he said.

Donnelly said Strickland’s treatment is not without precedent.

“All heretical revolutions enter this phase when the heresiarchs attempt to enforce their erroneous teaching on the Church — the Arians evicted St. Athanasius five times from his diocese,” he said.

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“Henry VIII evicted and arrested Bishop John Fisher from his diocese before executing him and the Calvinists evicted the Bishop of Geneva and his Chapter of Canons from their cathedral,” he said.

The deacon said the backlash against the pope’s decision puts the pontiff in an odd position.

“As a friend concluded on hearing this news that has upset and angered Catholics across the world, the removal of Bishop Strickland proves that: ‘Jorge Bergoglio is against sound Catholic doctrine and is the enemy of the faithful Catholics,’” he said. 

In his description of the forces at play in his dismissal by the pope, the bishop echoed many of the complaints traditional Catholics have with the changes made after the so-called Vatican II council, formally the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, that met in four sessions between 1962 and 1965.

Traditional Catholics hold that Vatican II, which at one level was meant to finish the work of the Vatican I council that was cut short because of the 1870 war between France and Prussia, went rogue in the hands of a faction of Modernists. These Modernists drove the more than 2,000 bishops at the council to change the Church’s teachings on matters, such as the definition of marriage and stating the Church was not actually the exclusive conduit to salvation

For most Catholics, the theological changes were not as significant as the changes made to the celebration of the Mass, in addition to the restrictions placed on the universal Latin Mass, which itself had been reformed just before the council in the 1962 Missal. Despite changes made in 1962, the Latin Mass remained essentially unchanged since 1570. After Vatican II, the Mass would be celebrated in the language of the congregants. 

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The Novos Ordo Mass was officially directed by Pope Paul VI in 1969.

In 2020, the bishop celebrated his first Latin Mass, having only really known the Novos Ordo Mass, since he was born in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1985.

“I found myself, more and more, becoming aware of the Latin Mass and the draw of the people to it, that it wasn’t this antiquated, negative thing that needed to stay buried,” he said of the experience.

Catholic author Dr. Taylor Marshall X-posted that the papal nuncio Cardinal Christopher Pierre, whom Francis just created a cardinal Sept. 30, linked Strickland’s unwillingness to suppress the Latin Mass–as directed by Francis were part of the reason he was removed.

“The Apostolic Nuncio from the Vatican stated that one reason Francis fired Bishop Strickland is that the bishop refused to implement Traditiones Custodes on the restriction of the Latin Mass,” Maxwell wrote. “This reveals the Bergoglian war against the Latin Mass.”

This is a break from the line that Strickland was simply a poor administrator.

Other changes to the Mass included turning the priest around so that he faces the congregation with his back to the crucifix and no longer requiring women to cover their heads. 

More than anything else, critics of Vatican II assert that instead of updating the Roman Catholic Church, the council created a new religion with the forms of the old religion so that this lack of continuity or rejection of the deposit of faith was not noticeable.

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In his LifeSite interview, Strickland said there are people in the Church looking to break with continuity.

“They want to delete significant portions of sacred scripture and say: “Oh, we got that wrong, or we’re just going to ignore it,” he said. 

“Saints through 2,000 years didn’t get it wrong,” he said. 

“Doctrine and understanding develops, but it develops in the sense of deepening not reversing direction,” he said. 

“There are forces in the world that want to reverse the direction, want to change moral teachings, want to totally restructure the church, but beautifully; the church has functioned with all the human failings.”

The Catholic newspaper “Our Sunday Visitor” reported that Strickland may have crossed the line when he addressed the narrative that the previous pope, Pope Benedict XVI, was forced from St. Peter’s Chair, by conspiracy–without condemning or dismissing the narrative.

The Oct. 31 Rome Life Forum, sponsored by LifeSiteNews, was billed as a “two-day strategy conference … held immediately after the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality which threatens to formalize heretical teachings on the family.” Organizers said the event was meant to “focus on confronting the evils of the Deep Church and Deep State and their involvement in the Great Reset agenda.”

Bishop Strickland gave a 46-minute public address, which included him reading at length from a letter he said was written to him by an unnamed “dear friend.” This letter accused Pope Francis of being “an expert at producing cowards by preaching dialogue and openness in a welcoming spirit and by highlighting always his own authority.”

The letter outright attacked Pope Francis’ validity as the successor of St. Peter, claiming he had ousted his predecessor, the late-Benedict XVI (who denied such allegations): “Would you now allow this one, who has pushed aside the true pope and has attempted to sit on a chair that is not his, define what the church is to be?”

Bishop Strickland said the letter’s words were “challenging” but did not dispute the allegations.

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Strickland’s principal consecrator does not defend him

Strickland was appointed the Tyler bishop Sept. 29, 2012, and he was consecrated a bishop Nov. 28, 2012, with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese, as the principal consecrator.

Despite the cardinal’s relationship with his brother Texas bishop, DiNardo put out a Nov. 11 statement that suggests Strickland was fired because of his poor administration of his see and reveals that Nov. 9, Francis offered Strickland the opportunity to resign. 

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.

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 Nov. 9, 2023, Bishop Strickland declined to resign from office. Thereafter, on Nov. 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.

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