This is what The Pillar reported:
The pope met Sept. 9 with Archbishop Robert Prevost, OSA, head of the Dicastery for Bishops, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States — both cardinals-elect.
Several sources close to the dicastery told The Pillar ahead of the meeting that the prelates would present the pope with the results of an apostolic visitation of Stickland’s diocese, conducted earlier this year, as well as subsequent public actions by the bishop, who has emerged as an outspoken critic of the Holy Father.
“The situation of Bishop Strickland is the agenda,” one senior official close to the dicastery told The Pillar, “and the expectation is that the Holy Father will be requesting his resignation — that will certainly be the recommendation put to him.”
While noting that the papal audience did not exclusively concern the Bishop of Tyler, who has previously accused the pope of having a “program [for] undermining the Deposit of Faith,” the official said that Strickland’s case was set to be the “primary point of discussion.”
“There are two aspects,” the official said, “there is the matter of the public scandal from all these comments about the pope and the synod, but there are also real problems in the diocese. Those were the focus of the visitation; there are concerns in the diocese about governance, about financial matters, about basic prudence.”
At a time were opinions are everywhere, facts and information such as this is very important. Hold that thought.
As for the story itself, could Pope Francis have been referring to Strickland when he made those comments last month about the U.S. church? This may have to do with next month’s much-anticipated Synod of Synodality that will take place at the Vatican.
The Texas diocese is led by one of the most publicly outspoken U.S. bishops (especially in Catholic social media). It’s also true that the Vatican had been investigating Strickland’s leadership and ability to lead the diocese. It’s also hard to separate what Strickland may have been doing as bishop to what he was publicly saying about this pontiff.
As background, Crux reported the following. It’s crucial to note the role, in press coverage of this drama, of America’s most outspoken Catholic priest among those seeking changes in Catholic ministry and teachings related to LGBTQ+ issues.
In response to Bishop Joseph Strickland’s claim that Pope Francis’s looming Synod of Bishops on Synodality risks unorthodox outcomes which could be “schismatic,” Jesuit Father James Martin, among the Americans chosen by Francis to attend the synod, questioned what is schismatic about “asking how the Church might grow?”
“I don’t think that asking how the Church might grow – as it has on many issues, like slavery, ecumenical relations, and so on – is in any way schismatic,” Martin, the editor-at-large of America Magazine and a longtime leader in outreach to LGBTQ+ Catholics, told Crux Aug. 24.
“In point of fact, this is a process that the Holy Father is asking us to participate in,” Martin explained. “In doing this, we are in union with the Successor of St. Peter, who is asking us to listen to the Holy Spirit. As such, it’s the definition of orthodoxy.”
Those comments, Crux reported, came as a result of what Strickland had said just three days earlier. Here’s the same Crux story:
Strickland, who leads the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, made the claims in a pastoral letter published Aug. 22, where he warns of “the evils that threaten us,” and highlights seven “basic truths” of the faith that are under threat because of the intentions of some involved with the synodal process.
According to Strickland, those “basic truths” include:
* That Christ established only the Catholic Church.
* That it is sacrilege for anyone to unworthily receive communion.
* That marriage is between one man and one woman.
* That every human person is created in the image and likeness of God and shouldn’t be supported in attempts to reject their biological identity.
* That sexual activity outside of marriage is a grave sin.
* That belief that all men and women will be saved regardless of how they live their lives is false and dangerous.
* That in order to follow Jesus Christ all must willingly choose to take up their cross.
“We must hold fast to these truths and be wary of any attempts to present an alternative to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or to push for a faith that speaks of dialogue and brotherhood, while attempting to remove the fatherhood of God,” Strickland wrote. “When we seek to innovate upon what God in His great mercy has given us, we find ourselves upon treacherous ground.”
Those are fighting words for doctrinal progressives in 21st century Catholicism. They may also be tied to why Strickland could be removed.
There’s lots to unpack here.
First, no surprise that this pope doesn’t get along with some U.S. clergy. That’s not new. What is new are the most-recent comments in the context of the pending synod.