Pope Francis on Saturday ordered the dismissal of a Texas city bishop who has become a staunch critic of the pontiff in recent months.
Francis removed Bishop Joseph Strickland from pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, and named Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin as temporary administrator, Vatican News reported.
Strickland, 65, has sharply criticized Francis in recent months, write in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, earlier this year that the pontiff “undermines the deposit of faith.”
In 2020, Strickland called the Church “weak” and “unclear” and challenged the pontiff to fire him, the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) reported earlier this year.
The AP reported that Strickland also took aim at Francis’ recent meeting on hot topics including the integration of LGBTQ+ Catholics, the potential of women deacons and access to the priesthood for married men.
Strickland has also repeatedly delivered anti-vaccine messages during the COVID-19 pandemic, while criticizing President Biden’s support for abortion rights, NCR reported. In 2020, Strickland also support expressed for a controversial video claiming that Catholics could not vote for Democrats in political elections.
Francis ordered two American bishops to make an apostolic visit to Strickland in June, according to the Vatican. The move followed complaints from priests and laypeople in Tyler about Strickland’s unorthodox claims.
Although few details of the investigation have been released, Texas Church leader Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said Saturday that the two bishops “conducted an exhaustive investigation into all aspects of governance and leadership » by Strickland.
DiNardo said the recommendation was made after the visit that prosecuting Strickland was “not feasible.” Strickland refused to resign from office when asked, 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 will continue to richly bless and strengthen the Church and God’s holy and faithful people here and throughout the world. world. »
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