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A rare move by the Pope to remove Texas bishop Joseph Strickland sparks debate

Pope Francis has removed Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, known for his conservative stance and criticism of the pontiff, from his position.

The Vatican statement cited the appointment of the bishop of Austin as the temporary administrator. Strickland had been a vocal critic of Francis, accusing him of undermining the Catholic faith.

The Vatican had earlier sent investigators to examine Strickland’s governance amid complaints, but the findings were not disclosed. Strickland, who refused to implement restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass, said his removal was due in part to this refusal.

Some conservatives view this as a move against traditionalist Catholics by Pope Francis. The pope’s concerns about the right wing in the U.S. Catholic hierarchy and his efforts to address issues like LGBTQ+ inclusion have contributed to tensions within the church.

The Associated Press reports:

Earlier this year, the Vatican sent in investigators to look into his governance of the diocese, amid reports that priests and laypeople in Tyler had complained and that he was making unorthodox claims.

The Vatican never released the findings and Strickland had insisted he wouldn’t resign voluntarily, saying in media interviews that he was given a mandate to serve as bishop in 2012 by the late Pope Benedict XVI and couldn’t abdicate that responsibility.

The conservative website LifeSiteNews, which said it interviewed Strickland on Saturday, quoted him as saying one of the reasons given for his ouster was his refusal to implement Francis’ 2021 restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass.

Francis’ crackdown on the old liturgy has become a rallying cry for traditionalist Catholics opposed to the pontiff’s progressive bent. Strickland told LifeSite he refused to implement the restrictions “because I can’t starve out part of my flock.”

He said he stood by his decision, would do it again and “I feel very much at peace in the Lord and the truth that he died for.”

Read the full article.

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