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America's Bishop, Joseph Strickland, Responds to Reports of Vatican Meeting, Affirms Commitment to His Diocese
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, has broken his silence following reports of a Vatican meeting earlier this month, where discussions allegedly took place regarding his potential resignation. Strickland clarified that he has not been officially contacted by the Vatican on this matter and asserted his commitment to his role as the bishop of Tyler.
In a letter addressed to his diocese on September 20, 2023, Strickland acknowledged the reports circulating about a meeting held in Rome involving Pope Francis and Vatican officials. This meeting was said to have included discussions about encouraging Strickland to step down from his position as the bishop of Tyler. However, Strickland made it clear that he has not received any communication from Rome regarding this issue.
He stated, "Let me be clear that I have received no communication from Rome regarding this. At this point, it is simply an article discussing supposed leaked information from the Vatican."
Furthermore, Strickland emphasized his commitment to his role as bishop, stating, "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." He also expressed his readiness to respect the authority of Pope Francis if the Holy Father were to remove him from office as the bishop of Tyler.
The reported Vatican meeting followed an apostolic visitation initiated by the Vatican in June. While the investigation was said to have focused on Strickland's use of social media, it also touched upon questions related to diocesan management.
Bishop Strickland, known for his outspoken stance on certain Catholic social issues such as abortion and gender ideology, has at times been critical of Pope Francis. His May tweet rejecting what he referred to as "his [Pope Francis'] program of undermining the Deposit of Faith" garnered attention and controversy.
Strickland's statement on Wednesday marked his first public response since an article by The Pillar on September 11 reported on the Vatican meeting. The article, citing anonymous sources, suggested that Pope Francis would be presented with the findings of the apostolic visitation and encouraged to request Bishop Strickland's resignation.
Despite the lack of direct communication from the Vatican, Strickland expressed gratitude for the support and prayers he has received from the faithful. He affirmed his love for serving as a shepherd to his diocese and acknowledged the importance of prayer in his life.
In a podcast in July, Strickland had described the apostolic visitation as "not fun" and compared it to being called to the principal's office. He maintained that he had nothing to hide and attributed the visitation to his commitment to preaching the truth.
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