His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre
Apostolic Nuncio of the United States of America Apostolic Nunciature
3339 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20008-3610
Via Email email@example.com
RE: Apostolic Visitation of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas Your Excellency, Archbishop Pierre:
This letter is offered in fidelity to Christ and His Church on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. We respectfully address this matter consistent with our rights and in obedience to our obligations under the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, particularly Canons 208-223, which state that “The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires,” and have the “right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful” (Can. 212, §§ 2-3).
We wish to raise our grave concern with the recent apostolic visitation of Bishop Joseph E. Strickland and the Diocese of Tyler by papal representatives. There are two grounds for our concern. First, no special circumstances exist in the Diocese of Tyler, whether spiritual or administrative, that warrant an apostolic visitation. Second, the visit to a diocese without such special circumstances when public and demonstrably grave circumstances of heterodoxy and moral failure exist in other unvisited dioceses worldwide raises legitimate questions about the justice and charity of the process, as well as potentially gives rise to scandal among the faithful.
No one knows the character and ministry of Bishop Joseph E. Strickland like the Catholic faithful of this diocese. He has been in our homes, faithfully preached the gospel to us, baptized our children, corrected us when necessary, and buried our dead for as long as many can remember. In all respects, he is a faithful bishop and son of Holy Mother Church.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler
The existence and content of this letter are entirely unknown to Bishop Strickland (or any other clerics within or without the diocese). He likely would not approve of such action by the faithful. But our concerns are only secondarily related to Bishop Strickland and the Diocese of Tyler. This communication concerns our superior obligation to truth, justice, charity, and our love for the Catholic Church.
No one knows the character and ministry of Bishop Joseph E. Strickland like the Catholic faithful of this diocese. Our diocese is small, and Bishop Strickland has served as our bishop for well over a decade, ministering as a priest in our diocese before that, and, in fact, he was raised among us in East Texas. He has been in our homes, faithfully preached the gospel to us, baptized our children, corrected us when necessary, and buried our dead for as long as many can remember. In all respects, he is a faithful bishop and son of Holy Mother Church.
We express our filial love for the Holy Father and respect for the visitors assigned to conduct the recent canonical visit, and we make no claim to all the facts surrounding the recent apostolic visit. However, we possess relevant information regarding our bishop and the functioning of the diocese. We humbly submit that it is reasonable to conclude that the knowledge of the Catholic faithful in the diocese regarding the bishop and the spiritual and administrative functioning of the diocese is, in many respects, greater than outside visitors with a transient investigative mission of extremely short duration.
For this reason, we request that, in the interest of justice and truth, great weight be given to the widespread support and opinions of the faithful of the Diocese of Tyler, who have more reason to know Bishop Strickland than perhaps anyone else.
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