Speculation surrounds possible resignation of Bishop Joseph Strickland

Bishop Joseph Strickland

Rumours are circulating about the possible resignation of Catholic Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler in Texas.

There is speculation that Pope Francis may request his departure.

The recent developments came to light following a meeting between Pope Francis, Archbishop Robert Prevost – the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops prefect, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States.

Among a range of alleged comments and actions Catholic news media report Strickland has

  • accused Pope Francis of undermining the Catholic faith,
  • endorsed videos labelling the current pontiff as a “diabolically disordered clown”,
  • undermined other bishops by expressing support for priests disciplined by their respective dioceses
  • and most recently, in a public letter, predicted an unveiling of ‘true schismatics’ at the forthcoming Synod of Bishops on synodality in Rome this October.

Despite the swirl of uncertainty, Strickland (pictured) has made it clear that he has received no formal communication from the Vatican and has no intention of voluntarily relinquishing his position.

The nature of their discussions is undisclosed but, according to The Pillar, sources suggest that Strickland’s resignation was on the table.

However, the Vatican has not officially confirmed these claims, leaving room for speculation.

No information from Rome

The uncertainty surrounding Strickland’s future follows an apostolic visitation to his diocese in June.

The visitation is a rare disciplinary investigation initiated by the Holy See.

It follows a November 2021 incident in which Archbishop Pierre privately reprimanded Strickland during a US Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting.

When reached for comment, Strickland expressed his unawareness of any formal resignation request from the Vatican.

He asserted, “I have received no information on this from Rome.”

Furthermore, Strickland indicated his determination to hold his position, even in the face of a potential papal request, citing his commitment to the mandate given to him by Pope Benedict XVI.

“As a basic principle, I cannot resign the mandate given to me by Pope Benedict the XVI,” Strickland wrote.

“Of course, that mandate can be rescinded by Pope Francis, but I cannot voluntarily abandon the flock that I have been given charge of as a successor of the apostles.”

Canon lawyer John Beal, a Catholic University of America professor, clarified that a pope has the authority to remove a bishop against the bishop’s will. However, there is no prescribed procedure for such an action.

Beal also noted that bishops who fall out of favour with the pope often see their authority diminished through creative means.

Strickland’s critics have called for his removal, but many fear that his significant online following could lead to continued influence.

“I believe the fear is that, if he’s removed, his visibility will be amplified,” Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, told RNS earlier this year.


Religion News Service

The Pillar

CathNews New Zealand


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