(RightWing.org) – A senior Catholic churchman in Texas has been fired by the pope after years of disputes. We’re now sadly familiar with Catholic bishops being implicated in sex abuse scandals, so it might not seem surprising to most people — but this case is different. Bishop Joseph Strickland spoke out AGAINST predator priests and the Church’s habit of covering for them.
Pope Fires American Bishop
On November 11, Pope Francis removed Bishop Strickland, the Bishop of Tyler in eastern Texas, from his post. Announcing Strickland’s firing, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston said the Vatican had asked the bishop to resign two days earlier, but he had refused. At that point, the Pope stepped in and personally dismissed him.
The removal marks the end of Strickland’s often controversial career as a bishop. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, becoming the first native Texan to head the diocese. Months later, Benedict resigned and was replaced by Francis, an Argentinian whose own record — dating back to allegations that he denounced fellow priests to his country’s military dictatorship in the 1970s — hasn’t been free of controversy either. However, it was a more recent controversy that turned Strickland against him, though.
In August 2018, Strickland revealed that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who at the time was the Papal Nuncio — ambassador — to the US, had “credible” evidence that Francis had protected Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal who was dismissed from the church for sexual abuse in 2019. He went on to accuse the Vatican of being “evil” in delaying the release of its report into McCarrick, and by this May he was accusing Francis of “undermining the Deposit of Faith.”
Archbishop Viganò went on to release a highly detailed letter pointing out that it had taken the Church 18 years to act on complaints against McCarrick, and that Francis had personally removed restrictions Benedict had placed on the predator cardinal. The Pope hasn’t retaliated against Viganò so far — possibly because many other senior churchmen have backed the archbishop — but he’s certainly hit back at Strickland.
Pope Francis, who has a reputation for backing left-wing causes with the same enthusiasm he once had for Argentina’s fascist military junta (Strickland is a supporter of former president Donald Trump) ordered an investigation by the Vatican Dicastery of Bishops, the body that selects new bishops and can dismiss existing ones. That investigation ended with Strickland being asked to resign. However, the fiery bishop clearly wasn’t going to make it easy for Francis, so the Pope has now had to act directly.
Whatever the truth of Strickland’s allegations, this isn’t going to heal the growing rift between Catholic traditionalists and supporters of Francis’s controversial reign. That point was driven home hours after Strickland was fired when Bishop Athanasius Schneider called it a “black day” and lamented that “The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers.” Francis won’t have missed that message.
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