If caring about Catholic beef seems at odds for us, we’d understand your confusion but this hot tea comes served with a side of holy communion, so take us to church!
Here we go! Bishop Joseph Strickland was formerly the head of the Diocese Of Tyler in East Texas. After tensions between Strickland and The Vatican came to a head, Pope Francis handed down a dismissal of the Bishop on Saturday, November 11.
So, why do we care?
Joseph Strickland is a major figurehead in the far-right conservative wing of the Catholic Church and was a vocal supporter of former US president Donald Trump. Strickland is an avid user of social media where he voices his interpretations of holy scripture in favour of social conservatism and has been bolstered by Republican politicians and pundits in the media.
Pope Francis is one of the Vatican’s most progressive leaders. One couldn’t exactly call him a political animal but when he has offered his perspectives on social causes in relation to faith, his answers lean more left-central than any other Pope in recent memory.
Herein lies the drama: Strickland has gone on record criticising Pope Francis for his perceived leniency on LGBTQIA+ matters. Pope Francis has given interviews and statements denouncing laws that criminalise queer people and has been open to welcoming LGBTQIA+ people into the church.
Pope Francis ordered an apostolic visitation of the diocese of Tyler in June where there would be a review of Bishop Strickland’s handling of financial affairs. Strickland is 65-years-old, which is ten years shy of retirement age for bishops, but has stated he would not leave his position even if requested.
The decision to relieve Strickland of his duties was handed down from The Vatican, which is rare. In standard practice, a bishop is asked to hand in his resignation, which the Pope accepts. In the case of Joseph Strickland, however, the church moved to dismiss him outright.
It would be a far-reach to claim that Strickland was removed solely due to being at odds with Pope Francis, but it’s interesting to see the divisions of politics have woven their way into institutions like the Catholic Church. If the Vatican is willing to take a stance against far-right dissidents in positions of power, then Amen!