Reuters describes the dismissal of American bishop Joseph Strickland by Pope Francis as a “very rare moment”.
According to the agency, the pope decided to take the “drastic” step after the bishop announced that he would not obey the call to leave.
“I cannot resign as bishop of Tyler because that would leave my flock,” Strickland said, according to the BBC.
The Vatican said the decision to remove the US Catholic bishop “came after an apostolic visitation in the Diocese of Tyler ordered by the Pope last June”. The investigation was supposed to cover, among other things, “the handling of financial matters in the diocese”.
Supporter of ultraconservatives and Trump
Strickland is one of the Pope’s harshest critics. In particular, he opposed the Pope’s statements and steps aimed at greater tolerance towards LGBTQ people or other progressive changes to the rules of the Catholic Church.
According to Reuters, the bishop was one of the “most vocal supporters of the ultra-conservative wing of the American Catholic Church” and his ideas reached people living far beyond the borders of the small diocese in East Texas. He also supported former US President Donald Trump.
Strickland has held the post since 2012 and was appointed by Pope Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI.For the time being, the pope has now appointed Austin, Texas Bishop Joe Vasquez as administrator of the Diocese of Tyler.