Much like Kevin Bacon in Animal House, the Catholic Church has been standing there with its hands up, screaming at its followers that they need to remain calm; all is well. Their insistence that everything is going great and that people shouldn’t worry is laughable at best. As leaders in the Church consistently find themselves at odds with the papacy, many are leaving.
Recently, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, was asked to leave his post by Pope Francis. Filling his shoes would be Bishop Joe Vasquez. This came following the Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation in June. Strickland had become one of the Pope, with the National Catholic Reporter saying Strickland called the church “weak” and “not clear” with Francis at the helm.
A post on X back in May by Strickland made it crystal clear how unsupportive he was of Francis. “I believe Pope Francis is the Pope, but it is time for me to say that I reject his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith. Follow Jesus.” A statement like this might be true, but talking about His Holiness like this in public is sure to get some eyebrows raised, and it certainly would get the attention of the Vatican.
Following the investigation, Pope Francis asked Bishop Strickland to step down on November 9th. When he refused, the Pope stepped in on the 11th, ensuring Strickland was unable to do mass on the 12th.
As the Associate Press reported, this is an entirely strange thing. “It is rare for the pope to forcibly remove a bishop from office. Bishops are required to offer to resign when they reach 75. When the Vatican uncovers issues with governance or other problems that require a bishop to leave office before then, the Vatican usually seeks to pressure him to resign for the good of his diocese and the church.”