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Pope Francis Removes Conservative US Bishop Strickland

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Pope Francis fired Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas, on Saturday. Strickland was one of the most vocal opponents of the pope among conservative Roman Catholics in the United States, and he refused to resign after a Vatican probe.

A bishop is rarely stripped of their duties completely. Bishops who are having problems with the Vatican are typically requested to step down before submitting a resignation that the pope will accept.

When a bishop declines to step down, popes use such extreme measures. At 65, Strickland is ten years younger than the typical bishop retirement age.

In a statement, Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo revealed that Strickland was requested to step down on November 9 but declined.

Pope Francis’ “program undermining the Deposit of Faith” was something that Strickland, a frequent user of social media who was appointed to the diocese by the late Pope Benedict in 2012, denounced in a tweet earlier this year.

He has opposed a recent synod and has been especially critical of the pope’s efforts to make the Church more accepting of the LGBT population as well as Francis’s intentions to give laypeople greater authority within the Church.

The dismissal was announced by the Vatican on Saturday, but no explanation was provided.

In an interview with the ultra-conservative website LifeSiteNews, Strickland stated that one of the reasons was his reluctance to follow Vatican decrees that limited the use of the traditional Latin Mass, which some conservatives find appealing.

“I stand by all the things that were listed as complaints against me … I’d do it the same way again. I feel very much at peace in the Lord and the truth that he died for.” Strickland said.

The expulsion came after a Vatican inquiry into the Tyler diocese’s management earlier this year, which included, according to Catholic media reports, an examination of his financial management. According to DiNardo, the study found that it “was not feasible” for Strickland to remain in office.

Strickland has grown to be one of the most outspoken representatives of the ultra-conservative wing of the American Church, and his popularity extends far beyond the tiny eastern Texas diocese of Tyler.

In August of last year, the pope bemoaned the state of the Catholic Church in America, calling it “reactionary” and claiming that in certain instances, political ideology had taken the place of faith.

Conservative American Catholic media outlets that support former US President Donald Trump view Strickland as a hero and are among his staunchest supporters.

Strickland was among the few American bishops to publicly defend the ultra-conservative anti-abortion priest Frank Pavone last year when the Vatican defrocked him for “blasphemous” social media statements and disobedience to bishops.

“The blasphemy is that this holy priest is cancelled 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,” Strickland wrote on Twitter at the time.

According to the Vatican, Francis designated Joe Vasquez, a bishop from Austin, Texas, as the Tyler diocese’s acting administrator.

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