Pope Francis sacked the firebrand Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, who led the protest against the Catholic-mocking drag queen troupe Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and who challenged the pontiff’s commitment to the Church’s deposit of the faith—that is, its continuity back to Christ and his apostles.
“I just got off the phone with Bishop Strickland,” Catholic writer Dr. Maxwell Taylor X-posted at 9:30 a.m., Nov. 11. “Pope Francis has removed him from the diocese of Tyler. This is a very sad moment for the Catholic Church in Texas and throughout the world. Pray for Bishop Strickland and pray for those who removed him.”
I just got off the phone with Bishop Strickland.
Pope Francis has removed him from the diocese of Tyler. This is a very sad moment for the Catholic Church in Texas and throughout the world.
Pray for Bishop Strickland and pray for those who removed him. 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/KtqazTnGxl
— Dr Taylor Marshall™️ (@TaylorRMarshall) November 11, 2023
Perhaps Strickland got the word earlier because shortly after midnight, His Excellency X-posted a painting of Jesus on the cross with the words:
Rejoice always that…no matter what the day brings, Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, yesterday, today and forever. May the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary always inspire us to return to Christ no matter how we may wander into darkness. Jesus is Light from Light.
The bishop retains his faculties as a bishop because his consecration makes an indelible mark on his soul, but he is without office, a shepherd without a flock.
The official notice of Strickland’s removal came in the form of a posted notice on the Holy See Press Office site:
Removal of bishop of Tyler, U.S.A., and appointment of apostolic administrator
The Holy Father has removed Bishop Joseph E. Strickland from the pastoral care of the diocese of Tyler, United States of America, and has appointed Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin as apostolic administrator of the same diocese, rendering it sede vacante.
The term “sede vacante” is Latin for “the chair is vacant,” a concept House Republicans Oct. 3 visited upon Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R.-Calif.), being that the chair is an emblem of the bishop’s office. In the same way, a cathedral is not a big church; rather, it is the building where the bishop’s seat, or cathedra, resides. Another example of this construct is when a pope invokes his papal infallibility; he does so ex cathedra, or from the chair.
It is beyond the scope of this article, but it needs to be said that there is also a movement in traditional Catholicism that asserts that all popes since the opening of the Vatican II council are illegitimate, and this movement takes the name: sedevacantism.
Strickland has long been a critic of the Holy Father. After his interview with Patrick Coffin, who challenges the legitimacy of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s 2013 assumption of the Chair of St. Peter, the bishop Tweeted that he accepted Francis as pope, but rejected his program against continuity.
Please allow me to clarify regarding, “Patrick Coffin has challenged the authenticity of the Pope Francis.” If this is accurate I disagree, I believe Pope Francis is the Pope but it is time for me to say that I reject his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith. Follow Jesus.
— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) May 13, 2023
The bishop is still present on the Tyler Diocese website, but there is this post on the front page:
It was announced today in Rome that Bishop Joseph Strickland has been relieved of pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler and that Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin has been appointed Apostolic Administrator of the diocese.
Our work as the Catholic Church in northeast Texas continues. Our mission is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to foster an authentic Christian community, and to serve the needs of all people with compassion and love. We strive to deepen our faith, promote the common good, and create a welcoming environment for all to encounter the loving God – Father, Son, and Spirit.
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.
While there is no explanation yet, it is very likely that the calendar drove the timing of Strickland’s removal. The last day of the liturgical calendar is Nov. 26, the Feast of Christ the King, meaning the bishop will be cheated out of the heart of the Church’s program, which runs from Advent to Christmas to Easter to Pentecost.
Harbingers of Strickland’s removal
Strickland wrote that two of his brother bishops spent five days investigating the conditions in his bishopric.
I realize you may have heard information about me that is concerning and possibly confusing.
I thought it would be good for you to hear directly from me; hopefully, I can alleviate some concerns and clarify any confusion. As you probably know there was an Apostolic Visitation of the diocese conducted the week of June 19-24. Bishop Kicanas, retired from Tuscan, Arizona, and Bishop Sullivan, from Camden, New Jersey, spent the week interviewing various people about the condition of the diocese and concluded by interviewing me.
Interestingly, the visitation, which is like a Catholic inspector general inspection, began shortly after Strickland spoke at the June 16 protest rally and procession at Dodger Stadium, the night the Los Angeles Dodgers honored the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at their 10th annual Pride Night. June 16 is also the day Catholics celebrate The Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The sisters are a troupe of drag queens who cosplay as satirical Catholic nuns with stage names such as Sister Viva L’Amour des Hommes, Sister Oletta B DeMonic, and Sister Anni Coque I Doo.
My RedState colleague Jennifer Van Laar wrote one priest, Father Timothy Gareau, who was also critical of honoring the drag queen nuns, was targeted for speaking out.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath saluted the Dodgers for honoring SPI.
As my RedState colleague Nick Arama reported Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath saluted the Dodgers for honoring SPI. “Congratulations to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on your honor tonight at Dodger’s Pride Night. Your commitment to service and our Catholic values inspires me,” she posted on X.
I had the honor of meeting Pope Francis last month where we discussed how essential play & the power of encounter are in our lives.
These are the principles that shape Pelota de Trapo, a youth sports initiative launching in LA! pic.twitter.com/t1MLLF4uDk
— Lindsey P. Horvath (@LindseyPHorvath) September 18, 2023
“I know it’s out there. It was done very quietly, but then it made the news, and people are aware of it. Really, it isn’t about me, but it’s about the truth of our faith,” the bishop said.
“I think that I went through this because I’ve been bold enough,” he said.
“The sad thing is, too many are bringing a false message that is harmful to the world and to the mystical body of Christ that is the Church,” he said.
“I’m a very, as I’ve said before, I’m a sinner. I make mistakes, but the diocese is really in good shape, not because of me, but by the grace of God and the goodness of the people,” he said.
The bishop said he was confident that his administration of the diocese would pass muster.
“I’ve got nothing to hide. The finances are in order. We have a great finance team in the diocese. Development is strong. We have a good number of seminarians,” he said.
The Catholic news site The Pillar reported Sept. 11 that Pope Francis met in August with Archbishop Robert Prevost, OSA, who leads the Dicastery of Bishops, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal American nuncio.
“The situation of Bishop Strickland is the agenda,” one senior official close to the dicastery told The Pillar, “and the expectation is that the Holy Father will be requesting his resignation — that will certainly be the recommendation put to him.”
While noting that the papal audience did not exclusively concern the Bishop of Tyler, who has previously accused the pope of having a “program [for] undermining the Deposit of Faith,” the official said that Strickland’s case was set to be the “primary point of discussion.”
One of The Pillar’s sources said Strickland’s ouster could also be presented as driven by the bishop’s mishandling of the diocesan finances.
“There are two aspects,” the official said, “there is the matter of the public scandal from all these comments about the pope and the synod, but there are also real problems in the diocese. Those were the focus of the visitation; there are concerns in the diocese about governance, about financial matters, about basic prudence.”
For his own part, Strickland has not backed down as Vatican courtiers plot his removal. He taunted the Holy Father, Pierre, and the pro-crackdown site “Where Is Peter,” with a post at the X microblogging site.
This doesn’t sound like the Bride of Christ but instead like an organization merely rooted in this world. I oppose no one who stands with the Truth Jesus Christ has revealed. The opposition, division and schism comes from those who are turning from Jesus. https://t.co/2RZmFc7nuH
— Bishop J. Strickland (@BishStrickland) September 11, 2023