(CNN) — Pope Francis has removed a Texas bishop from his position following an investigation ordered by the Vatican.
The Pope dismissed Bishop Joseph E. Strickland from the pastoral administration of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, after an apostolic visit by two bishops, according to what the Times of India website reported. a permit Cardinal Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston.
The Vatican confirmed the decision in a press release Published this Saturday.
DiNardo’s statement said Strickland’s dismissal follows a Vatican-ordered investigation into “all aspects of governance and leadership in the Diocese of Tyler.”
The statement said that the visit was ordered by the Pope and was headed by Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kikanas of Tucson.
Strickland has publicly criticized Pope Francis, challenged his leadership on social media, and even challenged Francis to fire him during an interview in 2020, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Strickland also used social media to spread anti-vaccine messages during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling President Joe Biden an “evil president” for his support of abortion rights, the newspaper reported.
CNN reported earlier That Strickland was so upset by Biden’s 2020 win that when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement congratulating him on his victory, he tweeted, “A dark cloud has fallen over this nation as the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak out in unison in support.” “For the Biden-Harris administration that supports the massacre of innocents through abortion during the nine months of pregnancy.”
Strickland was asked to resign from his position on Thursday, but he refused, according to DiNardo’s statement.
The findings of the investigation have not been made public, but DiNardo noted in his statement that it was “not possible” for Strickland to remain in his position at Tyler.
“It has been recommended to the Holy Father that Bishop Strickland’s continuation of his position is not possible,” the statement read. “After months of careful consideration by the Dicastery of Bishops and the Holy Father, the decision has been reached to request Bishop Strickland’s resignation. After receiving this request on November 9, 2023, Bishop Strickland declined to resign under his authority.”
“Subsequently, on November 11, 2023, His Holiness the Pope relieved Bishop Strickland of his position as Bishop of Tyler,” he added.
The Catholic Diocese of Tyler also announced the decision early Saturday on its website. “During this time of transition, we pray that God will continue to bless and strengthen the Church and the holy and faithful People of God here and throughout the world,” the diocese wrote.
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin has been named “apostolic administrator” of the Diocese of Tyler, according to the diocese’s statement announcing Strickland’s dismissal.
CNN was unable to reach Strickland for comment on what happened.
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