Bishop Joseph Strickland faces restrictions on conducting Mass within the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. Reports from a recent staff meeting indicated that while Strickland is prohibited from offering Mass within the diocese, he retains the ability to do so elsewhere. This decision was communicated to employees to adress public inquiries.
Interestingly, during this period, Bishop Strickland is attending a retreat at an Oklahoma-based Benedictine Abbey and seems to have been unaware of this restriction placed upon him.
The decision to prevent Strickland from celebrating Mass within his former diocese has sparked criticism. Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a Catholic author, expressed strong disapproval, likening the current management of the Church to a mafia operation. He criticized the disregard for canon law and the prevalence of power over rightful authority, attributing Strickland’s situation to his steadfast adherence to orthodox beliefs.
Strickland’s removal from his position as the ordinary of Tyler occurred abruptly after he declined Pope Francis’ request for resignation. This action triggered widespread support from devout Catholics globally, recognizing Strickland for his outspoken defense of traditional Church teachings.
Following Strickland’s dismissal, Bishop Joe Vasquez was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Tyler by Pope Francis. Vasquez, previously serving in various bishop roles in Texas, took charge of the diocese amidst Strickland’s departure.
Strickland and his diocese faced heightened scrutiny from critical Catholic media after an apostolic visitation in June 2023. This visit, conducted by two retired bishops, raised questions regarding the circumstances leading to Strickland’s removal. While Canon 416 ususally governs the vacancy of a diocesan see, Strickland’s situation, dispite lacking accusations of ecclesiastical crimes, remains a point of contention among legal experts.
Strickland, in discussions with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, indicated that his dismissal might be linked to his reluctance to implement Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditiones Custodes, which imposed restrictions on the Latin Mass. He also highlighted the apparent contrast between his situation and that of other U.S. bishops asociated with the disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who continue their active minstry.
Previously, Strickland voiced his rejection of Francis’ approach, expressing allegiance to traditional beliefs. He commended the priestly Society of St. Pius X for upholding tradition within the Church.
Post initial publication, reports emerged suggesting that Strickland was urged to temporarily refrain from publicly celebrating Mass in the Diocese of Tyler. However, conflicting reports from different outlets reveal a lack of clarity on whether Strickland received specific instructions regarding a ban on offering public MAsses.
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