An Argentinian in Rome is not amused…
Target: Tyler, Texas
A Commentary on the sticky Strickland Situation
By now presumably everyone reading this post is aware of the news The Pillar broke on Monday:
At a meeting Saturday [Sep. 9. 2023], Pope Francis discussed with Vatican officials the prospect of requesting the resignation of Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, The Pillar has learned.
The pope met Sept. 9 with Archbishop Robert Prevost, OSA, head of the Dicastery for Bishops, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States – both cardinals-elect.
Several sources close to the dicastery told The Pillar ahead of the meeting that the prelates would present the pope with the results of an apostolic visitation of Strickland’s diocese, conducted earlier this year, as well as subsequent public actions by the bishop, who has emerged as an outspoken critic of the Holy Father.
“The situation of Bishop Strickland is the agenda,” one senior official close to the dicastery told The Pillar, “and the expectation is that the Holy Father will be requesting his resignation — that will certainly be the recommendation put to him.”
(“Pope Francis meets to discuss Strickland resignation”, The Pillar, Sep. 11, 2023)
Although we posted a number of tweets concerning this news on our busy Twitter feed, it did not seem necessary to write a blog post on it then, insofar as it was merely a claim about something that might happen. We figured we’d keep our comments for when it does happen.
However, as there has now been a flurry of activity on social media from both sides — from supporters as well as opponents of the embattled prelate — we decided it was necessary now to address the situation and offer some commentary.
Born in 1958, the 64-year-old conservative Novus Ordo bishop Joseph Edward Strickland appears to be the only active local ordinary (bishop actively in charge of a diocese) who is willing to publicly criticize the ever more manifest program of apostasy of ‘Pope’ Francis (Jorge Bergoglio). As host of the podcast The Bishop Strickland Hour, he is influential far beyond his diocese.
That said, it is important to keep in mind that Strickland is very much a man of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and the Novus Ordo Catechism (1992). He is not a recognize-and-resist traditionalist. In fact, it was only three years ago that he offered his first Traditional Latin Mass. This is not meant as a criticism; we are merely stating the facts so people can understand the beliefs and background of ‘Bishop’ Strickland. (We put ‘Bishop’ in quotes because he was ordained in the invalid Novus Ordo rite of Paul VI. That’s not his fault, but it is still factual.)
Strickland rattles the Cage
When Francis’ blasphemous exhortation Amoris Laetitia was first released in 2016, Strickland praised it in a pastoral letter as a “beautiful teaching from our Holy Father Francis on the splendor of Christian marriage and the family [that] recalls the essential aspects of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family, which are based on Divine Revelation found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.” Strickland has since revised his position on that and removed the pastoral letter (dated 2016) from his web site; and on Aug. 7 of this year, he sent a tweet denouncing Amoris Laetitia as “a radical breach with both” Scripture and Tradition.
On Oct. 21, 2020, ‘Bp.’ Strickland gave an interview to Catholic Answers’ Cy Kellett in which he essentially challenged ‘Pope’ Francis to fire him:
In a new interview, Bishop Joseph Strickland characterized the long delay of the release of the Vatican’s report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as “evil” and said that “if I get fired for saying that, for not being politically correct, go ahead and fire me.”
Who knows, he may just get his wish. But that wasn’t all he had to say:
Strickland also accused both the Vatican and the United States of having a “deep state,” saying the papacy lacks clarity and Pope Francis’ recent comments in support of civil unions for same sex-couples are “confusing and very dangerous.”
(Christopher White, “Texas bishop says Francis’ support of civil unions is ‘dangerous,’ papacy lacks clarity”, National Catholic Reporter, Oct. 22, 2020)
In December of 2020, Strickland was a featured speaker at the so-called Jericho March, an ecumenical prayer rally that included not only Novus Ordos and Protestants but also Jews. ‘Abp.’ Carlo Maria Vigano and YouTuber Taylor Marshall also took part as prominent speakers.
On Sep. 16, 2022, Strickland was one of just a handful of Novus Ordo prelates who courageously signed a statement accusing Francis of teaching heresy in the ‘Apostolic Letter’ Desiderio Desideravi. Strickland’s name appeared at the very top of the list of signatories:
On May 12, 2023, Strickland published a tweet in which he stated that although he believes Francis is a legitimate Pope, “it is time for me to say that I reject his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith.” Back in 2021 already, Strickland had gotten a finger-wagging from the Vatican nuncio in Washington for “talking about the deposit of faith”!
A May 15, 2023, report by OSV News noted that Strickland
is no stranger to controversy. He is on the record supporting Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former Vatican nuncio to the U.S., who has released multiple public statements targeting church leaders, including Pope Francis. Bishop Strickland also has thrown his support behind several priests in other dioceses who faced disputes with their own bishops, including longtime outspoken pro-life activist Frank Pavone, who was dismissed from the clerical state in December 2022 for, in part, disobedience to his bishop.
(“Bishop Strickland tweets that he rejects Pope Francis’ ‘undermining the Deposit of Faith’”, America, May 15, 2023)
On June 16, 2023, Strickland “played a prominent role in a eucharistic procession and prayer rally in Los Angeles on June 16 organized to protest Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers for honoring an anti-Catholic drag group at the team’s annual Pride Night game”, Catholic News Agency reported and continued:
Though he was hailed for his leadership in some circles for joining the Dodgers protest, others saw the involvement of a bishop from another diocese as a breach of ecclesiastical protocol. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which condemned the Dodgers’ actions, emphasized in a statement that it had not given “backing or approval” for the rally.
(“Vatican-ordered investigation targets Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas”, Catholic News Agency, June 25, 2023)
On June 24, 2023, it was announced that an ‘Apostolic visitation’ of the diocese of Tyler had just been completed, with Strickland commenting that it was “not fun”. To add insult to injury, one of the two ‘bishops’ the Vatican sent to investigate Strickland is Gerald Kicanas, formerly the ordinary of Tucson, Arizona. The man has a few skeletons in his closet himself, as John-Henry Westen has summarized here:
On July 19, 2023, Strickland said that he was being persecuted for preaching the truth but that the Vatican wouldn’t be able to stop him, The Pillar reported. However:
…while Strickland’s remarks argued that the apostolic visitation he’s faced is connected to his teaching ministry, sources in the Tyler diocese have told The Pillar that there are also administrative concerns among the diocesan presbyterate.
Those concerns, sources have told The Pillar, include the governance of a diocesan high school, considerable staff turnover in the diocesan curia, the bishop’s welcome of a controversial former religious sister as a high school employee, and the bishop’s support for “Veritatis Splendor” — a planned Catholic residential community in the diocese, which flamed out amid controversy involving its leadership’s financial administration and personal conduct.
(“Bishop Strickland: ‘They won’t stop me'”, The Pillar, July 21, 2023)
On Aug. 1, 2023, Strickland sent a tweet against the impending ‘Catholic Woodstock’ gathering in Lisbon, Portugal: “What a tragedy that World Youth Day has fallen prey to the current trend to secularize the Catholic Church & de-emphasize Jesus Christ”.
On Aug. 22, 2023, Strickland issued a pastoral letter in which he exhorts his flock to reject any attempts to water down the necessity of the Gospel for salvation and restates various Catholic truths in the face of a perceived threat of Francis’ impending synod:
In the weeks and months ahead, many of these [timeless Catholic] truths will be examined as part of the Synod on Synodality. We must hold fast to these truths and be wary of any attempts to present an alternative to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or to push for a faith that speaks of dialogue and brotherhood, while attempting to remove the fatherhood of God. When we seek to innovate upon what God in His great mercy has given us, we find ourselves upon treacherous ground. The surest footing we can find is to remain firmly upon the perennial teachings of the faith.
Clearly, that is a message Club Bergoglio does not want to hear. At the same time, Strickland does not seem to realize yet that this denial of the Gospel he fears will become even more manifest at the synod is rooted in the Second Vatican Council.
On Sep. 5, 2023, Strickland doubled down with another pastoral letter, this time addressing also the subject of women’s ordination, widely rumored to be discussed at the synod: “Sacred Tradition and the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church have affirmed throughout the ages that the Church has no authority whatsoever to ordain women to the priesthood.” This will surely be a thorn in Bergoglio’s side, who has been looking for the tiniest reflection of a shadow of a penumbra of a footnote in a historical document that would provide him a way to allow for women deacons, however gradually.
Perhaps Francis has Good Reason to move against Strickland?
Although ‘Pope’ Francis claims to value courageous and candid speech (parrhesia in Greek), the fact is that he wants no such thing if it truly challenges him and threatens to throw a monkey wrench into his agenda. Let’s recall what he said during a brief address to the synod fathers in 2014:
One general and basic condition is this: speaking honestly. Let no one say: “I cannot say this, they will think this or this of me…”. It is necessary to say with parrhesia all that one feels. After the last Consistory (February 2014), in which the family was discussed, a Cardinal wrote to me, saying: what a shame that several Cardinals did not have the courage to say certain things out of respect for the Pope, perhaps believing that the Pope might think something else. This is not good, this is not synodality, because it is necessary to say all that, in the Lord, one feels the need to say: without polite deference, without hesitation. And, at the same time, one must listen with humility and welcome, with an open heart, what your brothers say. Synodality is exercised with these two approaches.
For this reason I ask of you, please, to employ these approaches as brothers in the Lord: speaking with parrhesia and listening with humility.
(Antipope Francis, Greeting to the Synod Fathers during the First General Congregation of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Vatican.va, Oct. 6, 2014)
When he gets a chance to “listen with humility”, these lofty words quickly go out the window. After seven years, two out of four “dubia cardinals” are still waiting for a private audience with Francis, precisely to let him experience a little of that parrhesia he likes so much. (The other two have died waiting.) Meanwhile, earlier this year some dubia from LGBTQ Hellboy ‘Fr.’ James Martin got answered promptly – with a hand-written ‘papal’ letter, of course. Priorities!
It is clear that the Bergoglio regime is persecuting Strickland because he is too conservative and influential for them. Although still a man of Vatican II, he is too outspoken about the upcoming Synod and about some of Francis’ pet projects. The false pope, although constantly harping on mercy, fraternity, and dialogue, shows himself a ruthless dictator when someone doggedly opposes his ideological agenda.
For those who think that Francis may just be trying to protect the flock in Tyler from a bad bishop because he is sincerely concerned about the good of souls, we have a devastating reality check. Here is a very brief list of Novus Ordo bishops who have not been removed, nor asked to resign, nor disciplined in any way:
- ‘Cardinal’ Christoph Schönborn, who is personally responsible for the habitual defilement of churches and does all he can to endorse sodomitical unions
- ‘Cardinal’ Reinhard Marx, one of Francis’ closest advisors from 2013 to 2023, who denies the existence of hell and purgatory as well as the sinfulness of sodomy; he also claims that it is impossible to offend God; and in March of this year he opened a salacious and sacrilegious art exhibit in his archdiocese of Munich called Damned Lust
- ‘Bishop’ John Stowe, who is a big promoter of sodomite ‘pride’ in his diocese and allows a church right under his nose to blaspheme the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of Pride’
- ‘Bishop’ Franz-Josef Overbeck, who has claimed that God is present in sodomitical relationships
- ‘Bishop’ Franz-Josef Bode, who allowed performers who were almost entirely nude to profane the sanctuary of his diocesan cathedral with a perverted “sacred dance”
- ‘Bishop’ Georg Bätzing, who believes that adultery and sodomy are not sinful and wants the catechism changed to reflect that
- ‘Bishop’ Hermann Glettler, who had a blasphemous “Jesus Clock” installed in his church under the pretext of “art”
These are, of course, just a few examples of an almost endless list we could put up here, ad nauseam.
Clearly, Rome’s solicitude to protect people from wayward bishops is rather one-sided and highly selective. The only thing that gets a cleric in trouble is suspicion of Catholicism.
Reactions to the current Strickland Situation
At this point, the internet is filled with all kinds of people reacting to the news about Strickland’s possible removal as bishop of Tyler.
For example, some interesting comments can be heard in the conversation between Rev. Charles T. Murr and Inside the Vatican‘s Robert Moynihan that was live-streamed on Sep. 12, 2023, beginning at the 17:57 mark.
At Where Peter Is, Mike Lewis wrote on Sep. 6: “There’s no question we have a new generation of prophets of doom today. Replacing Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, today we have Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Joseph Strickland.” Unfortunately, Lewis is too blind to see that the “prophets of doom” John XXIII mocked in his 1962 address opening Vatican II ended up being vindicated: Instead of the promised “new springtime”, there came the coldest of winters that made any prior crisis in church history look like child’s play.
On the semi-traditionalist side, ‘Bp.’ Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan, wrote a letter to ‘Bp.’ Strickland, encouraging him to persevere. The missive is dated Aug. 2, 2023, but was not made public until today, Sep. 14.
Also, the insufferable theological sophist Dr. Peter Kwasniewski thinks he can justify a potential refusal by Strickland to accept his deposition (forcible removal) by appealing to a historical precedent he found in the Vatican II Church:
- Resisting Papal Overreach: The Story of Bishop Isidore Borecky (Crisis Magazine)
Bp. Isidore Borecky (1911-2003) was the bishop of the Ukrainian-rite eparchy of Toronto, Canada. To that office he had been appointed by Pope Pius XII in 1956. Per Novus Ordo law, he was supposed to submit his resignation when he turned 75, in 1986, but he refused to do so, claiming it was doubtful whether the law to retire at age 75 applied to Eastern-rite prelates, esp. those appointed before Vatican II.
Six years later, on Dec. 16, 1992, ‘Pope’ John Paul II appointed Bishop-elect Roman Danylak (1930-2012) apostolic administrator over the eparchy while allowing Bp. Borecky to continue as ‘titular head’ of the diocese. Apparently this meant that Bp. Danylak had all rights and duties of jurisdiction (governing power) over the eparchy, while Bp. Borecky was still allowed to retain the title of being head of the diocese and exercise liturgical functions — a rather strange scenario, to be sure:
Borecky was recalcitrant, however, refusing to accept this new arrangement. He did not consider himself retired and continued to act as the legitimate bishop of Toronto, while Bp. Danylak did the same — a classical case of schism at the diocesan level: “Ukrainian Catholics in Toronto had been divided since the appointment of Bishop Danylak, with some priests and parishes recognizing the apostolic administrator and others continuing to follow Bishop Borecky” (Our Sunday Visitor, July 19, 1998, p. 4).
The messy situation finally came to an end in 1998, when Bp. Borecky, by then 86, agreed to resign, and the Vatican in turn agreed to appoint a completely new bishop of Toronto, transferring Bp. Danylak elsewhere.
Somehow Dr. Kwasniewski thinks this story could vindicate a refusal on ‘Bp.’ Strickland’s part to accept his forcible resignation (deposition). But why? Kwasniewski sings Borecky’s praises, but nowhere in the article does he prove that Borecky acted rightly, that what he did was acceptable according to Catholic standards. Kwasniewski seems to just assume that it was, simply because it happened.
He does attempt a theological argument of sorts, but the only ‘authoritative source’ he quotes is the Second Vatican Council! So Vatican II suddenly becomes reliable, authoritative, and binding Catholic teaching when what it says lends itself to supporting his argument. A fine traditionalist, that Peter Kwasniewski!
A quotation from the First Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution Pastor Aeternus, which provides an objection to his thesis, Kwasniewski tries to neutralize by claiming that only a “narrow or positivistic reading of that passage” would show Borecky was wrong. That “spirit of Vatican I”, you see! In actual fact, it is simply Catholicism.
Kwasniewski ends his monograph with a comment that is again devoid of serious foundation: “…in picking a fight with ‘America’s Bishop,’ Rome may finally have overplayed its hand.” Why should Mr. Strickland be considered “America’s bishop”? Who uses that moniker for him except perhaps those people who are in Kwasniewski’s theological camp (and, compared to the Novus Ordo Church at large, that is precious few)? What indication is there that any resistance by Strickland to his possible deposition would in any way seriously pose a problem for Club Bergoglio? Why wouldn’t they use such resistance as further evidence of how ‘radical’ and ‘rigid’ these ultra-conservatives in the United States are?
But enough of the theological sophistry of a man who thinks he is the gold standard in properly understanding the Papacy — an understanding you won’t find in the pre-Vatican II theology books, however, except perhaps where they condemn it.
So, what will happen to ‘Bp.’ Strickland?
Several different scenarios are conceivable:
- Francis will simply “request” that Strickland resign, but no more
- Francis will make veiled threats, perhaps by means of third parties, to intimidate Strickland
- Francis will scheme behind the scenes in order to put such immense pressure on Strickland that he will have no other choice but to resign
- Francis will simply remove Strickland from office (yes, he would have the power to do that, Dr. Kwasniewski)
- Francis will do nothing at all
If Francis issues a mere request for resignation, he can be sure Strickland will politely decline it — or perhaps even a little impolitely:
Asked whether he would resign if the pope asked, Strickland suggested he would resist, possibly forcing the Vatican to remove him.
“As a basic principle I cannot resign the mandate given to me by Pope Benedict the XVI,” he wrote. “Of course that mandate can be rescinded by Pope Francis, but I cannot voluntarily abandon the flock that I have been given charge of as a successor of the apostles.”
(Jack Jenkins, “Reports of forced retirement prompt defiance from embattled Bishop Strickland”, Religion News Service, Sep. 12, 2023)
The last option — that nothing whatsoever will happen — should not be dismissed lightly. The current ‘situation’ is perhaps only being used as a trial balloon to gauge Strickland’s reaction and estimate how many people actually support him, and who. At present, it does not seem that Strickland would be able to do much “damage”, so to speak, to Francis’ agenda. It might be a lot less messy, and more effective, for the false pope simply to ignore whatever Strickland does, as he has done with ‘Bp.’ Schneider’s scathing criticism for years.
There are, of course, other Novus Ordo bishops who have publicly manifested their opposition to Francis’ agenda, even more so than Strickland, so the question arises why it is Strickland that is being targeted and not the others. One reason could be that only Strickland actively leads a diocese. The others are either auxiliary bishops (such as Athanasius Schneider or Robert Mutsaerts) or retired ordinaries (such as Vitus Huonder), or curial officials with no assignment (such as ‘Cardinals’ Raymond Burke and Gerhard Muller). Even ‘Abp.’ Vigano, the most outspoken of them all, is retired.
All of the foregoing adds to the ever-growing pile of evidence showing the impossibility of being a Catholic in the Vatican II Church. It is not possible to recognize and submit to a Modernist hierarchy as if they were lawful Catholic authorities while at the same time retaining traditional Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. In short, you cannot be Catholic in a non-Catholic church:
- Rejecting the Imposter Church (Letter to the Clergy of the Diocese of Rockford by Fr. Michael Oswalt)
- From Novus Ordo Presbyter to Roman Catholic Priest (Interview with Fr. Michael DeSaye)
- Now What? How to be a real Catholic today
Let us pray for Joseph Strickland, that he too will come to see what more and more people are realizing: The Vatican II Church is not the Roman Catholic Church but its prophesied counterfeit.
Image source: composite with elements from Shutterstock (Marco Ohmer/Nook Hok), YouTube (screenshot), and Wikimedia Commons (Long Thiên)
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