ROME – Following a recent visitation and several instances of outspoken opposition to the current papacy, the Vatican announced Saturday that Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, has been removed from the leadership of his diocese.
In a Nov. 11 statement, the Vatican announced that “the Holy Father has relieved Bishop Joseph Strickland from the governance of the Diocese of Tyler,” and that he has named Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin as apostolic administrator until a new bishop is named.
A staunch conservative and papal critic who has all but accused Pope Francis of heresy, Strickland and the Diocese of Tyler were the object of a Vatican apostolic visitation earlier this year.
The reasons for the visitation were not made public, but it’s widely believed it was related to Strickland’s public opposition to Pope Francis and his pastoral decisions.
Through his social media accounts, as well as a radio program on Virgin Most Powerful Radio and his website – bishopstrickland.com – Strickland has frequently posted about LGBTQ+ issues and has repeatedly criticized Pope Francis’s Synod of Bishops on Synodality, as well as various other aspects of Francis’s pontificate.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he also frequently condemned the use of vaccines as unethical, despite the Vatican giving Catholics a greenlight to receive them.
In a pastoral letter published Aug. 22, Strickland called the Oct. 4-29 Synod of Bishops on Synodality “schismatic” and warned against “the evils that threaten us,” highlighting seven “basic truths” of the faith he said were under threat because of the intentions of some involved with the synodal process.
On October 31, Strickland delivered a speech at a conference in which he quoted from a letter he had received describing Pope Francis as a “usurper” and as “one who has pushed aside the true Pope and has attempted to sit on a chair that is not his.”
Strickland had previously stated that he would refuse any order to step down.
So far, he has not issued any public statement about his removal. His last post on the social media platform X read asked followers to, “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.”
Follow Elise Ann Allen on X: @eliseannallen