In a significant move by the Vatican, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Eastern Texas has been dismissed from his role as the head of the Diocese of Tyler, with concerns being raised about the bishop’s criticism of efforts to make the Church more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.
This decision, which followed an “apostolic visitation” ordered by Pope Francis in June, investigated Strickland’s governance and leadership.
Bishop Strickland, known for his vocal criticism of Pope Francis, had labelled the pontiff a “diabolically disordered clown” and accused him of “undermining the Deposit of Faith.” His refusal to resign when requested last Thursday led to his removal by the Pope. Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin will now serve as the apostolic administrator of the district.
Cardinal Daniel Nicholas DiNardo highlighted the extensive investigation into Strickland’s leadership, concluding that his continued role was “unfeasible.” Strickland’s criticism extended to the Pope’s efforts to make the Church more inclusive for LGBTQ+ Catholics, which he described as a “travesty.” Despite the final document of the monthlong debate not altering established doctrine, Strickland expressed concern over the topic being discussed.
In addition to Strickland’s removal, Pope Francis has made strides in welcoming transgender Catholics, stating they can be baptised, serve as godparents, and witness marriages, providing it doesn’t cause scandal or confusion. This declaration, which also addresses gender-questioning minors, has been hailed by LGBTQ+ rights groups as an “unequivocal message” against homophobia.
In response, anti-LGBTQ+ commentators have criticised the Pope’s stance. Matt Walsh, a commentator from the Daily Wire, argued that Catholic doctrine requires transgender individuals to renounce their identity, a perspective contrary to the Pope’s more inclusive approach.
This shift in the Vatican’s approach and the subsequent dismissal of Bishop Strickland underscores a broader trend in the Catholic Church towards inclusivity, despite resistance from conservative factions within the faith.