11 November 2023

About F%$#ing Time

When he was Pope, John Paul II, when he wasn't covering up priest abuse and canonizing pedophiles, spent his time purging progressive clerics, even when they were dutifully obedient.

Well it appears that Pope Francis has finally had enough outright insubordination, and relieved Joseph Strickland of his position as head of the Dioceses for Tyler, Texas.

Given that there had already been an Apostolic Visitation, the Catholic equivalent of what HR in businesses call a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), and he continued to accuse the Pope of undermining Catholic faith, and running a Latin mass in direct contravention of Papal decrees, this is long overdue:

Pope Francis fired on Saturday a bishop in Texas who was one of his loudest American critics within the Catholic Church, a highly rare dismissal that appeared to reflect the growing rift between the Vatican and a more conservative wing of the church.

The Vatican did not cite a reason for the dismissal of the bishop, Joseph Strickland, saying in a statement only that the pope “relieved” Bishop Strickland from the governance of his diocese in Tyler, Texas.

Bishop Strickland had significant ideological differences with Pope Francis. He was arguably the most prominent figure representing traditionalist American Catholics who see Francis as dangerously liberal on social issues like divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage, and on theological issues including his discouragement of the Latin Mass. Ultraconservatives in the United States have emerged as the financial center and media megaphone of the resistance to Francis’ papacy.

In the past year, Bishop Strickland has accused the pope of undermining the Catholic faith, questioned whether Vatican officials even qualified as Catholics and warned that the global meeting of bishops and laypeople that the pope convened last month was a vehicle to threaten “basic truths” of Catholic doctrine.


Supporters of Francis, who considered Bishop Strickland’s frequent salvos against the pope beyond the pale and indicative of views that were too extreme, were likely to welcome the firing.

For some observers, the bishop’s jeremiads often went too far, even in a role whose duties include proclaiming truth.

“I don’t remember when a bishop had become so violent in his public attacks against the pope,” said Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology at Villanova University. “He had become a real embarrassment for the church.”

Bishop Strickland, 65 and well below the age of automatic resignation, tested the limits of that tolerance. On Oct. 31, he addressed the Rome Life Forum, a conference hosted by LifeSiteNews. He read what he described as a letter from an anonymous friend that suggested that Francis was a “usurper” in the role of pope, one who has “endangered souls by proclaiming that they are justified before God as they are, with no need of repentance.”

The speech shocked Rev. Timothy Kelly, the pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in the diocese of Tyler. “How can you leave him in office after that?” he asked. “You can’t.”

The reason that I feel compelled to comment on this, even though as a Jew it does not personally effect me, is because it shows a weakness of progressives generally.

When conservatives come to  control of an institution, their first order of business is to purge progressives, while when progressives achieve power with that institution, they tolerate active sabotage of their own organization by their right wing.

The fact that Francis tolerated this sort of behavior in what is one of the few feudal monarchies on earth, is a mark of dysfunction, and not tolerance.

That's the bigger picture here.


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