Francis Fires Strickland

In removing Bishop Strickland from the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, Pope Francis has canceled one of the most faithful, forthright and vocal bishops in the United States.

Pope Francis has removed Bishop Joseph Strickland from his role of shepherd and bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas.

The shock announcement came via the Holy See’s daily bulletin, November 11. It stated simply:

The Holy Father has relieved from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler (U.S.A.) H.E. Msgr. Joseph E. Strickland and appointed the Bishop of Austin, H.E. Msgr. Joe Vásquez, [Bishop of Austin] as the Apostolic Administrator of the vacated diocese.

Bishop Strickland had been formally asked to resign by Pope Francis, in a request that came via the papal nuncio Cardinal Cristophe Pierre. Strickland declined this request, but now – upon the direct order of the Pope – is vacating his diocesan see.

Per Canon 416, a diocesan see is normally made vacant by the bishop resigning, transferring, dying, or having a “privation” made known to him by the Pope. The Pope’s ability to remove a diocesan bishop is not without many restrictions: indeed, he can only issue a “privation” on the bishop exercising his office by following the precise and exacting confines of Canon Law.

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