An American bishop has claimed he was fired by the Pope because dark forces within the Vatican wanted to stop him from preaching the Gospel.
The Holy See announced at the weekend that Bishop Joseph Strickland has been removed from the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, and that Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin will serve as apostolic administrator until a new bishop is named.
The outspoken bishop and critic of the policies of Pope Francis was subjected along with this to a Vatican apostolic visitation earlier this year and it was widely speculated that the Holy Father would demand his resignation.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Bishop Strickland said he could not understand why he was being deprived of his see but speculated that he was the victim of enemies of the faith within the Church.
He said: “I said that I couldn’t resign, and I couldn’t of my will abandon the flock that I’d been given. But … Pope Francis has the authority to remove me as bishop, and he’s chosen to do so. I have to respect that.”
He said: “I really can’t look to any reason except I’ve threatened some of the powers that be with the truth of the Gospel.”
“The only answer I have to that is because forces in the Church right now don’t want the truth of the Gospel,” he continued.
“They want it changed. They want it ignored. They want to be rid of the truth that is gloriously not going to go away. The truth that is Jesus Christ, His mystical body, which is the Church, all the wonders that the martyrs died for and the saints lived for through almost 2000 years since Christ died and rose.”
The bishop said that if such internal enemies wanted to stop Catholics from learning the truth of the Gospel, then “I’m a problem” and they therefore agitated for the “removal of a bishop for standing with the Gospel”.
Bishop Strickland did not directly accuse Pope Francis of undermining Church teaching but said, however, that “many forces are working at him and influencing him to make these kinds of decisions”.
“That’s why we pray for the Pope, for him as a son of God and for his role as the supreme pontiff,” he said.
“But we have to acknowledge there are tremendous and powerful forces at work in the world,” he stressed.
“St Paul reminds us that we’re not fighting against human beings, flesh and blood; we’re fighting the powers and principalities of evil.
“And evil doesn’t want the truth of Jesus Christ.”
He said: “There are people in the Church, rather than glorying in the truth of Christ, they want to delete significant portions of Sacred Scripture and say, ‘Oh, we got that wrong,’ or ‘we’re just going to ignore it.’”
Bishop Strickland said that “the saints, through 2,000 years, didn’t get it wrong”.
“The Scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ is the face of truth,” Bishop Strickland said. “He doesn’t morph into a different being than He was when He died on the cross and rose for us. He is the same Lord; He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and those who want to change that, for a day, in terms of human history, we have to live through this day, but it’s a moment that will pass, and the truth will prevail.”
He continued: “We know we’re living through a time of questions and confusions of faith, and many people walking away, many Catholics saying, ‘Oh, they don’t really believe these things anymore’.
“And too many of those in high places in the Church, at least they’re acting as if they don’t really know the Lord. They don’t really know His mother.
“And because we know that, let us take on the charitable work of praying for the confused, praying for those who have turned their backs on the realities, the challenging realities of our faith.”
He added: “It is a sad day for me, but I’m strong in the Lord … I urge people not to feel like they can walk away from the Church. We are one body. We are the mystical body of Christ that is the Church.”
Bishop Strickland rejected suggestions that the Diocese of Tyler might have been mismanaged, saying: “No place is perfect, no family is perfect. But the diocese is in good shape.”
He said it was financially strong and that there were 21 seminarians training to be priests from a diocese of just 120,000 Catholics.
He said he was unsure about what he would do in the future, though he would remain a “bishop and successor of the Apostles”.
Although the reasons for the visitation that led to Bishop Strickland’s dismissal were not made public, it is widely believed they related to Strickland’s public opposition to Pope Francis and his pastoral decisions.
Through his social media accounts, as well as a radio programme on Virgin Most Powerful Radio and his website – bishopstrickland.com – Strickland repeatedly criticised the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, as well as various other aspects of Francis’s pontificate.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he frequently condemned the use of vaccines derived from aborted foetuses as unethical in spite the Vatican enthusiastically encouraging their use among Catholics.