He’s a vocal, social media prevalent, and unapologetic defender of the faith. Therefore, he has been under investigation. His name is Bishop Joseph E. Strickland and if you have not heard of him then you should get to know him. The Vatican’s Dicastery of Bishops launched a formal investigation of Bishop Strickland which has recently been completed. What crime did he commit? What sin has he committed? To understand the answer to those questions, one must understand a little background and overview of the prelate.
Strickland is bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas and is now at risk of disciplinary action. The purpose of the inquiry, which is known as an apostolic visitation, has not been revealed. Strickland’s recent statements and actions have included defenses of unborn, traditional marriage, TLM, and Catholic teaching regarding a wide range of issues and is suspected to be the cause for the visit.
The 64-year-old bishop has been leader of the eastern Texas diocese since 2012 but has caused many waves within the Church because of his bold social media posts. He has been accused of being problematic, divisive, and having actions unbecoming of a prelate. Additionally, he accused the pope on May 12 of “undermining the Deposit of the Faith.”
Bishop Strickland, however, has gained widespread recognition and support when he played a large role in hosting a rally and Eucharistic procession in Los Angeles on June 16 following the L.A. Dodgers’ decision to honor an anti-Catholic drag group at a Pride Night game. The move to lead the prayer rally and stand up in support for the Church and our religious sisters apparently was not taken well by leadership. The defense of the Church and traditional Biblical teachings is apparently not acceptable to the papacy since the archdiocese did not take lightly to the procession led by Bishop Strickland.
Strickland recently criticized a Vatican document on June 21 that suggests a discussion be held on issues such as women deacons, married priests, and calls for greater inclusion for LGBT people. (I am currently going back through the New Testament because I am certain I must have missed the Bible verses that showed where Jesus and the disciples took a poll of what others considered sin and acceptable) His social media post caused more resistance and anger from the Vatican. Strickland wrote, “it is a travesty that these things are even proposed for discussion. I pray that all who truly know Jesus Christ will not be deceived by this path. The Gospel welcomes all to repentance & sanctity, if there is no repentance the barriers to sanctity remain.”
It appears that Pope Francis would rather cover up sexual abuse of children than allow a bishop to stand for truth. It appears the pope would rather appoint pro-LGTBQ and endorser of sin James Martin, S.J as a consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications rather than supporting a procession of the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Lord and Savior through sinful streets and in response to mockery of the faith.
Pope Francis would rather launch a persecutive investigation into a faithful defender of Christ than condemn homosexuality as a sin. The pope would rather discipline a bishop who urges people to repent of sin rather than defend the Lord in the Holy Sacrament and reject communion for those in an unworthy state of reception for the Eucharist.
This persecution and attack on a devoted servant of Christ should not come as a surprise. The Lord warned the disciples in John 15:20 that we will be persecuted if we stand for Christ. “Remember the word that I (Jesus) said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.”
Kevin Wells, Director of Public Relations at Sisters of Mary World Villages for Children, in Maryland posted on Facebook that Bishop Strickland is “the loneliest bishop in America. There is no No. 2.” He wrote, “I’ve said for about a year now in presentations that a move would be made by Rome in 2023 to remove Bishop Strickland. His apostolic visit should be no surprise to anyone with even a mild understanding of today’s collapsing Church. Bishop Strickland is called ‘divisive’ by numberless thousands of Catholics, who believe his candor to be off the mark, judgmental, harsh, and evil. He did not want to travel to LA to lead a procession against the pus the Dodgers allowed. But he felt called, and when no other bishop would go – he went….He is not divisive. More accurately, he is polarizing. He is the most polarizing bishop in America. And all faithful Catholics should fall to their knees and thank God that he is. Why? Because there are North and South poles today. Martyrs and prophets live in the cold of the North, where Bishop Strickland resides. In their loneliness, they were always warmed by demands of the Furnace of the Gospel, which they proclaimed without fear. In the South, where demons roam, the lies of the world are proposed.”
Fr. Donald Calloway, of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M., wrote on Facebook his support of Strickland and a message of Truth. “Here’s the thing: Truth and light can’t be overcome. You can murder it, cancel it, and try to silence it. But it always comes back. What so many in the Vatican and church leadership don’t seem to realize is that going after Bishop Strickland will not stop the victorious march of truth and light. Several generations of priests will soon take the reigns and we are completely fed up with your liberal gay insanity. So, stack the deck and fire all your guns. You won’t win. The Deposit of Faith has been passed on. Truth and light shall conquer. Viva Cristo Rey!”
Persecution has only fueled the faith of Christians in the past. The persecution of faithful Catholics who promulgate and promote the Deposit of Faith, Sacred Scriptural teachings, and the need for repentance will only serve to be the seed of the future Church. Persecution produces perseverance. Persecution produces defenders. Persecution produces a stronger church. So, bring it on Vatican. We stand behind Bishop Strickland because we stand behind Truth. We stand behind Bishop Strickland because we stand behind Sacred Scripture. We stand behind Bishop Strickland because we stand with Christ.
Strickland tweeted a response to the apostolic visit on Sunday by writing, “to be persecuted for speaking truth is an honor every Christian should be willing to embrace. It is walking with Jesus Christ who is Truth Incarnate. If we know Jesus it is easier to speak his Truth no matter what forces oppose us. The opposition is temporary. Jesus is forever.”
Meanwhile, why don’t you go and stop covering up for sex offenders and promoting pro-sin priests. Dear Pope Francis, perhaps you should take a reminding look at your vows and remember who you serve. You do not serve the money of pitiful politicians or the puppets of Satan advocating for sinners to be rewarded rather than repent, but you took a vow to stand with Christ as Bishop Strickland has continued to do. It is not your job to make everyone ‘comfortable’ and ‘feel better’ in this life. It is your job to help others know how to receive Christ and obtain eternal life.
Tolerance of evil will not help anyone receive salvation. Promoting acceptance of sin will not create a need for anyone to repent. Advocating for approval of sin will give you accolades and celebrations with many individuals and groups in this life, but it will lead to your destruction in the eternal life.
As St. John Chrysostom said, “the road to Hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.” Go ahead Pope Francis and allow your skull to join the road. You will be in good company with your friends from the Jesuits such as James Martin. One you will not be in the company of is the one who stands for the faith. The one who stands for Jesus in Texas and around this country will not join your skull on that path.
Go ahead Pope Francis. Choose the darkness. We know the Lord promised that the darkness and gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church. It will not be because of you that it does not prevail. It will be because of faithful, strong, sincere, and brave clergy like Bishop Strickland.
Viva Christo Rey!