(WatchDogReport.org) – Pope Francis made a surprising move on Saturday, booting out Bishop Joseph Strickland from Tyler, Texas, in an unprecedented action. Strickland, a vocal critic of the Pope, was removed following his contentious social media criticisms directed at Francis. The Vatican issued a brief statement stating that Bishop Strickland had been “relieved” of his role in Tyler and that the bishop of Austin would take over temporarily.
At 65, Strickland has been notably critical of Francis, accusing him earlier this year of undermining the core principles of faith. He specifically voiced opposition to discussions during a recent meeting regarding matters such as LGBTQ+ Catholics and the role of women within the Catholic Church.
Investigations by the Vatican into Strickland’s leadership in the diocese earlier this year raised concerns, although the outcomes of these inquiries were never disclosed. Despite reports of dissatisfaction among priests and laypeople in Tyler, Strickland remained firm in his stance, stating that he had been appointed by the late Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 and wouldn’t voluntarily step down.
LifeSiteNews, a conservative platform, cited Strickland, indicating that one of the grounds for his removal was his reluctance to adhere to the limitations imposed by Francis in 2021 regarding the celebration of the old Latin Mass. Strickland justified his stand, stating he couldn’t deprive part of his flock by implementing the restrictions. He expressed contentment with his decision and remained resolute in his beliefs.
Strickland’s removal prompted a strong reaction from conservative circles, with editor Michael J. Matt of The Remnant condemning the action, accusing Francis of undermining the church’s fidelity. Vatican-appointed investigators concluded that Bishop Strickland’s continuation in office was unfeasible, leading to the rare decision to forcibly remove him from his position.
This move by Pope Francis underlines the rift between conservative and progressive factions within the U.S. Catholic hierarchy. It also marks a significant development in the ongoing discourse over the direction of the Catholic Church under the pontiff’s leadership. The diocese of Tyler, despite this upheaval, has pledged to continue its mission and service to the community under the new leadership of Bishop Joe Vásquez from Austin.
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