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Defending Faith and Authority: Cardinal Muller Backs Bishop Strickland
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Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the former Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, has voiced his unwavering support for Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, advising the bishop against resignation.
Image Via: Vatican Media
Muller's statement, published on September 21, emphasizes the grave concerns he has regarding the treatment of Bishop Strickland, describing it as an abuse of office against the divine authority of the episcopate. He stated, according to LifeSiteNews, "It is terrible what is being done to Bishop Strickland, an abuse of office against the divine right of the episcopate."
Muller went on to advise Bishop Strickland not to resign, asserting that such a move would enable Vatican authorities to absolve themselves of the situation. In his words, "If I could advise Bishop Strickland, he should definitely not resign because then they [Vatican authorities] can wash their hands of it."
Bishop Joseph Strickland has garnered a reputation as one of the most outspoken defenders of Catholic teaching in the United States. His staunch advocacy for traditional Catholic doctrine has at times appeared at odds with statements made by Pope Francis.
The scrutiny of Bishop Strickland intensified when it was revealed that he underwent an apostolic visitation in June 2023. This visitation was conducted by two retired bishops: Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, New Jersey, and former Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona.
Recent reports, including one from The Pillar, suggested that the Vatican might request Strickland's resignation. However, Bishop Strickland responded on September 20, expressing that he had received no explanation for the visitation's purpose and had not been informed of any results.
He reiterated his determination not to resign, saying, "I have said publicly that I cannot resign as Bishop of Tyler because that would be me abandoning the flock that I was given charge of by Pope Benedict XVI. I have also said that I will respect the authority of Pope Francis if he removes me from office as Bishop of Tyler. I love Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, which He established. My only desire is to speak His Truth and live God's Will to the best of my ability."
Cardinal Muller, in his defense of Bishop Strickland, argued that a pope can only justifiably remove a bishop from office if the bishop has been involved in serious misconduct, such as heresy, schism, apostasy, criminal behavior, or actions contrary to the moral law. He stressed that arbitrary removal of a bishop undermines the pope's authority.
Muller emphasized the importance of Church officials adhering to the Tradition of the Church and not imposing their private opinions or teachings that contradict revelation and natural moral law.
Additionally, he reminded that the pope is the Vicar of Christ for the universal Church, not the lord of the Church, and should remain faithful to the mission given to Simon Peter by Jesus.
Muller, who has been critical of Pope Francis' Synod on Synodality, described it as a "hostile takeover" of the Church that threatens Catholicism. He argued that Pope Francis lacks the authority to intimidate good bishops and criticized those who betray faithful bishops while allowing heretical and immoral bishops to act freely.
Cardinal Muller is not the only high-ranking Church figure supporting Bishop Strickland. Bishop Athanasius Schneider from Kazakhstan privately thanked Strickland for his dedication to preserving and defending the Catholic faith. Schneider accused the Vatican of subjecting Strickland to scrutiny and intimidation due to his commitment to the traditions of the Church.
Despite rumors of resignation or forced removal, Bishop Strickland has continued to publish pastoral letters addressing various aspects of the Catholic faith, including the sacraments, the nature of the Church, and fundamental questions related to the faith, particularly those pertinent to the upcoming Synod on Synodality.
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