Pope Francis has removed Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas, one of his staunchest critics among conservative American Catholics, a Vatican statement said Saturday.
It is very rare for a Roman Catholic bishop to be simply relieved of his duties. Typically, bishops who have problems with the Vatican are asked to resign before submitting a resignation, which the Pope accepts.
Popes take these types of measures, considered drastic, when a bishop rejects a request for resignation. Strickland is 65 years old, 10 years before the usual retirement age for bishops.
Strickland, a prolific social media user who had been bishop of the diocese since 2012, tweeted this year that he rejected the pope’s “program that undermines the Deposit of Faith.”
The dismissal followed a Vatican investigation also this year into the administration of the Tyler diocese, which Catholic media said included a review of its management of financial affairs.
The dismissal was announced simultaneously by the Vatican and the United States Bishops’ Conference. Neither statement gave a reason. There was no immediate response from Strickland.
Francis named Austin, Texas, Bishop Joe Vasquez as interim administrator of the diocese, according to the statement. (Reporting by Philip Pullella, Writing by Alvise Armellini; Edited in Spanish by Manuel Farías)