Pope Francis on Saturday ordered the removal of a bishop of a Texas town, who has become a staunch critic of the pontiff in recent months.
Francis removed Bishop Joseph Strickland from the pastoral governance of the diocese of Tyler, Texas and appointed Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin to serve as a temporary administrator, The Vatican News reported.
Strickland, 65, has been a vocal critic of Francis in recent months, writing in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, earlier this year that the pontiff is “undermining the deposit of faith.”
In 2020, Strickland called the church “weak” and “not clear” and dared the pontiff to fire him, The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) reported earlier this year.
The AP reported Strickland also took aim at Francis’s recent meeting on hot-topic issues, including in the integration LGBTQ+ Catholics, the potential for woman deacons and access to the priesthood for married men.
Strickland also repeatedly spread anti-vaccine messages during the COVID-19 pandemic, while criticizing President Biden’s support for abortion rights, NCR reported. In 2020, Strickland also voiced support for a controversial video that argued Catholics could not vote for Democrats in political elections.
Francis ordered two U.S. bishops to conduct an apostolic visitation to Strickland in June, per the Vatican. The move came after complaints from priests and laypeople in Tyler about Strickland making unorthodox claims.
While few details about the investigation have been released, the head of the church in Texas, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, said Saturday the two bishops “conducted an exhaustive inquiry into all aspects of governance and leadership” by Strickland.
DiNardo said the recommendation was made after the visitation that the continuation of Strickland was “not feasible.” Strickland declined to resign from office upon being requested, prompting Francis to remove him, DiNardo said.
The Catholic Diocese of Tyler also confirmed the removal, writing in a statement, “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.”
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Author: Miranda Nazzaro