“It’s Time for the Pope to Resign”: Pope Francis Ousts Texas Bishop, Signaling a Hard Stance Against Ultraconservative US Catholics


Pope Francis has gotten rid of a “troublesome” cleric, following a request the Vatican made for the Texas bishop to resign but he refused to hang up his vestments. 

Critical Social Media Posts

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Joseph Strickland, Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, had been a vocal opponent on social media of the pontiff’s leadership. He was appointed bishop by the late pope Benedict in 2012. 

Vatican Investigation

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The Vatican launched an investigation into Strickland’s diocese earlier this year, with a focus on how the bishop was managing its finances. The probe concluded by saying Strickland should not be allowed to continue in the post, Catholic media reported. 

Remaining for His People 

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As rumor and controversy swirled around the bishop, he wrote on his website in September that he would not resign because of his congregation. 

Staying Put 

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Strickland wrote: “I have said publicly that I cannot resign as Bishop of Tyler because that would be me abandoning the flock that I was given charge of by Pope Benedict XVI. I have also said that I will respect the authority of Pope Francis if he removes me from office as Bishop of Tyler.”

A Request to Resign

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The Vatican asked Bishop Strickland to step down on November 9 but he refused to, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, said in a statement. 

A Papal Firing

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Unimpressed with the bishop’s reluctance to resign, the pope went ahead and fired the 65-year-old conservative, the Vatican said. 

Removed from Position 

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The Vatican said in a statement: “The Holy Father has removed Bishop Joseph E. Strickland from the pastoral governance of the diocese of Tyler, United States of America, and has appointed Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin as apostolic administrator of the same diocese…”

No Reason Given

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Despite the Vatican issuing a statement saying the bishop had been removed from his post, it did not say why, or what the reason for his dismissal was. 

Hitting Out at Pope

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But the now former bishop lashed out at Pope Francis earlier this year by tweeting that he did not approve of the pontiff’s “program undermining the Deposit of Faith.”

Against LGBT Inclusion 

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Strickland has also been critical of the liberal-minded pope being more open to the LGBT community and also allowing lay people to have more roles in the church. 

Public Support for Strickland

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Many people online were supportive of the ousted bishop. One person, Anna, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “[a]lthough I knew this action was coming, to wake up to the dismissal of a true believer, devoted to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, brought me to tears. Bishop Strickland is on the front lines of this spiritual war and make no mistake, we are next.”

‘More to Come?’

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Marty Mitchell, who describes himself as an author and speaker, voiced his opinion on X, saying: “With the pope’s decisions to allow transgender people to be baptized and become godparents and now to remove faithful servant Bishop Strickland for speaking the truth all coming in November, it’s becoming apparent why the pope’s November intention is for prayers for himself. It begs the question, what more will he be announcing?”

‘Failing Leaders’

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Another person, using the handle YRivas, wrote on X: “The leaders of the Catholic Church are failing and leaving TRUE Catholics alone, it’s time for the Pope to resign and the other cardinals with him, we need TRUE CATHOLICS who will fight against abortionist and the lgbt propaganda.”

‘Blasphemous Priest’

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It’s not the first time the Vatican has moved to strip a cleric of their title. Last year, it defrocked American priest Frank Pavone for social media posts it called  “blasphemous communications on social media and of persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop.”

Bishop Strickland Reaction

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Bishop Strickland reacted to the Vatican’s defrocking of Father Pavone by saying on X: “The blasphemy is that this holy priest is canceled while an evil president promotes the denial of truth and the murder of the unborn at every turn, Vatican officials promote immorality and denial of the deposit of faith and priests promote gender confusion devastating lives … evil.”

Pope’s Reforms

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Pope Francis, 86 and in poor health, has been credited with attempting to reform the Catholic Church by making it more inclusive. Speaking to reporters following abdominal surgery in August, he said the church was open to  “everyone, everyone, everyone,” including gay people and women.