On November 11th, 2023, the Holy Father removed one of your brother bishops, Joseph Strickland, from his office. A vocal critic of Pope Francis, Bishop Strickland often challenged the Holy Father in much the same way St. Paul challenged St. Peter at Antioch (Galatians 2:11-13). A consummate defender of the Faith, Bishop Strickland has led his diocese towards greater spiritual and administrative health during his 10-year tenure. According to Catholic News Agency, Bishop Strickland’s diocese current has 21 seminarians discerning the priesthood in a territory of 119,169 Catholics. For perspective, the diocese of Dallas (as of 2021) reports 77 seminarians out of a population of 1.3 million Catholics. Clearly, the bishop’s faithfulness to the Gospel inspires young men to discern a lifelong commitment to serve God’s people in the priesthood.
Why remove such an important voice during an era of increased synodality?
Furthermore, the Holy Father often calls all within the Church to “listen,” yet seems to silence some critics and ignores others. Take for example, the bishops in Germany. These bishops often disregard and criticize the pope in their own Synodal Way. The National Catholic Register recently reported that immediately after the conclusion of the First Session on the Synod of Synodality, the German delegation (made up your fellow bishops):
contended that the Vatican synod echoed many of the issues that have been advanced by the controversial German Synodal Way, a non-canonical assembly of bishops and laypeople that has pushed for condoning same-sex sexual relations, the attempted ordination of women, and lay governance of the Church.
Your excellencies, I think I speak for many within the Church when I state that when such brazen actions by such bishops in Germany receives NO correction from the Holy Father, yet a faithful (if critical) bishop in the US gets removed, I feel scandalized. Yes, scandalized.
Moreover, what are US Catholics to think? Please offer guidance and not your own silence. In your presence, we need you to be present.
Therefore, in light of the recent actions taken by the Holy Father concerning Bishop Strickland, in a spirit of solidarity, I call on all US Bishops who support Bishop Strickland to immediately offer their resignations to Pope Francis.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
God bless you and your ministry.
Blogger at The Latin Right on Patheos
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