Fired prelate appears near — but not at — bishops gathering

by | Nov 15, 2023 | Religion

BALTIMORE (RNS) — A Texas bishop recently removed from his post by Pope Francis made an appearance near the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual gathering this week but avoided entering the building, telling reporters on Wednesday (Nov. 15) that he was respecting a request from the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States.Until Saturday (Nov. 11), Joseph Strickland was the bishop of Tyler, Texas, a post he had held since 2012, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. But Strickland became a source of perpetual controversy, praying at a Jericho March event in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and voicing support during the COVID-19 pandemic for priests who defied their bishops by refusing to be vaccinated. In May, Strickland accused Pope Francis on social media of “undermining the Deposit of Faith,” the body of Catholic belief.
Strickland’s actions earned him a private dressing-down by then-Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S. (and now newly minted cardinal), at a 2021 meeting of the USCCB, followed this summer by a visit from Vatican investigators to his diocese. When rumors circulated that the Holy See was preparing to force Strickland’s retirement, he told Religion News Service that he would not resign voluntarily.
Strickland’s removal did not technically bar him from attending USCCB’s meetings, but he did not appear in the hotel ballroom in Baltimore’s Marriott Waterfront where bishops gathered this week for their annual fall meeting. Inst …

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