A bishop in Texas who has been one of the firecest critics of Pope Francis among US Roman Catholic conservatives was dismissed on Saturday, said the Vatican according to a Guardian report. The development comes as a rare move as bishops in trouble with the Vatican are usuallly asked to resign before submitting a resignation, which the pope accepts.
Such a move is made by the pope only when a bishop refuses to the request for resignation and is considered drastic.
The Texas bishop, Joseph Strickland, had said earlier thsis year that he would refuse to resign if asked.
Named to the diocese by the late pope, Benedict XVI in 2012, Strickland had tweeted earlier this year that he rejected Francis’ “program undermining the Deposit of Faith”.
As per the report, Strickland, 65, has been particulary critical of the pontiff’s attempt to make the Catholic church more welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community and attempts by Francis to give lay people more responsibility in the church and opposed a recent synod.
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The Saturday’s dismissal came after an investigation by Vatican earlier this year into the administration of the Tyler diocese, which Catholic media reports said included a review of his handling of financial affairs.
Strickland’s dismissal was simultaneously by the Vatican and the US Bishops Conference with neither of them stating the reason behind their decision.
The report also stated the Strickland is a strong supporter of former US President Donald Trump and is seen as a hero by conservative US Catholic media outlets that are aligned with Trump.
He was one of the few American bishops that sided with ultra-conservative US anti-abortion priest Frank Pavone who was defrocked by the Vatican last year for his “blasphemous” social media posts and disobedience to bishops. The bishop of Austin, Texas, Joe Vasquez has been named the interim administrator of the Tyler diocese by Francis, said the Vatican.