Earlier this year, on three consecutive days in May, Bishop Joseph Strickland posted the following on Twitter:
- “I believe Pope Francis is the Pope but it is time for me to say that I reject his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith. Follow Jesus.” (May 12, 2023)
- “Schismatic movements like SSPX or Sedevacantists however well-intended are an injury to the body of Christ.” (May 13, 2023)
- “A correction…as Bishop Schneider has stated, the SSPX is not in schism. The SSPX continues to hold Tradition out for the Universal Church.” (May 14, 2023)
This series of tweets says a lot about Bishop Strickland.
His comments on May 12 suggest that he understands that Jorge Bergoglio (stage name, Francis) isn’t a follower of Christ and, furthermore, he knows this because he has a “program undermining the Deposit of Faith,” i.e., Strickland is acknowledging that Francis manifests, via his reign over the conciliar church, a false faith.
Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith. The cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith. (Pius XII, cf Mystici Corporis 22, 69)
In sum, Strickland essentially declared, on a public platform no less, the undeniable truth that Jorge Bergoglio isn’t a member of the Church. In this very same tweet, however, he put his confusion on full display as he, at one and the same time, insisted that Francis is the pope, that is, the visible head of a Body of which he isn’t a member.
On May 13, Strickland publicly labeled the SSPX a “schismatic movement,” i.e., he accused the Society of being willfully separated from unity with the Catholic Church, the proximate source of said unity being the Roman Pontiff.
So, is the SSPX truly schismatic?
Both the SSPX and Joseph Strickland routinely profess their acceptance of Bergoglio’s claim to the papacy, and yet they openly oppose his ordinary magisterium (so-called), thus willfully and publicly refusing to persist in unity of faith with the man they call “Roman Pontiff.”
If, in fact, Jorge is pope, then the whole lot of them are schismatic and damn proud of it! At least that’s how it appears to me, but more on that another day.
The more salient point concerning Bishop Strickland’s evolution, however, was made in his tweet of May 14, wherein his commentary demonstrated an honorable degree of humility and a willingness to stand corrected. That was the good part.
On the flip side of the coin, however, Strickland once again gave public witness to his confusion.
He declared that the SSPX adheres to “Tradition,” but I would challenge Bishop Strickland (and Bishop Schneider, as well as the SSPX itself) to make the case that refusing unity of faith with the Roman Pontiff – ferreting through his authoritative teaching in order to determine, based upon one’s own scholarship, what is true and what is false – is a venerable Catholic tradition.
The fact of the matter is that they cannot produce even one citation from a reliable pre-conciliar source encouraging such behavior, and yet, it is their chosen modus operandi toward the man they call “Holy Father.” That’s not “tradition,” it’s Protestantism.
All of that said, Bishop Strickland does appear sincere in his desire to discover Catholic truth and to apply it to the present ecclesial crisis, even going so far as to invite persecution.
Will he one day arrive at the point where he will publicly acknowledge that the only persons who are treating Bergoglio with authentic Catholic integrity are those who recognize Francis as an anti-pope and are not afraid to say so publicly?
Not very long ago, that seemed highly unlikely. Today, there is perhaps hope.
For years, I (and others) have been calling on Bishop Strickland to retract his glowing public praise for Amoris Laetitia (aka Jorge’s Love Letter to Satan), which he called “a beautiful teaching from our Holy Father Francis on the splendor of Christian marriage and the family” (as posted on his blog shortly after Bergoglio’s blasphemous text was published).
In August of this year, however, Fr. David Nix (who also urged Strickland to recant) called my attention to a tweet from Bishop Strickland wherein he, at long last, criticized Amoris Laetitia, saying that it “represents a radical breech” with both Scripture and Tradition. It was at that time that I realized that Bishop Strickland had deleted his previous praise for Amoris from his blog.
The evolution continues…
On October 31, in a presentation given at the Rome Life Forum, Bishop Strickland read aloud a “letter from a friend,” who wrote that “Francis” (to whom his friend does not refer as pope) “has pushed aside the true Pope and has attempted to sit on a chair that is not his,” calling him “a usurper of Peter’s chair.”
In so doing, despite his attempt to provide nuance, Strickland made those words his own.
On November 9, 2023, Bishop Strickland was asked (presumably by the Congregation for Bishops, with Jorge’s approval) to resign as Ordinary of the Diocese of Tyler, TX. He refused.
Two days later, on November 11, to the surprise of no one, the announcement came that Francis has removed Bishop Strickland from office.
Tradservative reaction has been hilariously predictable, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how Francis is acting as a lawless dictator. Some are insisting that Strickland “should resist & remain in his office” (Peter Kwasniewski) and “refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of this unjust action” (Brian McCall).
It appears that these men are conflating an unjust act of governance on the part of the legitimate authority with a command to do evil, the latter of which one must resist.
Frequent EWTN contributor and canon lawyer, Fr. Gerald Murray, even went so far as to suggest that Francis is running afoul of the 1983 Conciliar Code of Canon Law.
In Canon Law, removal from a diocese, privation of office is the technical term, is a penal measure. So, therefore, it has to follow canonical procedures. There should have been what we would call an administrative process, or a canonical trial, and he needed the right to defense. I wonder if his right to defense and due process was observed, and then secondly, was he given a decree stating the reasons. Because in Canon Law, when a superior takes an action which he wishes to enforce, he simply doesn’t say, “Well, I think this is what I’d like to happen.” He has to issue a decree and state its reasons.
PRO TIP: Whenever a tradservative starts a sentence commenting on the Roman Pontiff’s governance of the Church with “The pope has to…,” rest assured he is, at the very least, waxing schismatic, i.e., he knows not of what he speaks.
Murray is an expert in the 1983 Conciliar Code, but he must have somehow missed the following:
Can. 333 § 1. The Roman Pontiff, by virtue of his office, not only has power in the universal Church but also possesses a primacy of ordinary power over all particular churches and groupings of churches by which the proper, ordinary and immediate power which bishops possess in the particular churches entrusted to their care is both strengthened and safeguarded. § 2. The Roman Pontiff, in fulfilling the office of the supreme pastor of the Church is always united in communion with the other bishops and with the universal Church; however, he has the right, according to the needs of the Church, to determine the manner, either personal or collegial, of exercising this function. § 3. There is neither appeal nor recourse against a decision or decree of the Roman Pontiff.
Can. 333 § 1 is largely taken from the First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ of Vatican I:
If anyone says that the Roman pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.
For those who call Jorge “Holy Father” and are apoplectic over his treatment of “America’s Bishop,” the most they can say is that the decision to remove Strickland is perhaps unjust. In all cases, however, the tradservatives are simply doing what they do best, picking and choosing which parts of Catholic tradition to acknowledge and which ones to either rewrite, reconfigure, or ignore altogether.
[For more on the tradservative meltdown, see this post on Novus Ordo Watch.]
Despite indications that Bishop Strickland agrees with his letter-writing friend (that the Chair of St. Peter is vacant), he appears to remain utterly flummoxed as to Bergoglio’s true identity.
In an interview with John-Henry Westen just hours after news of his removal became public, Strickland stressed that Francis is the “Supreme Pontiff” who has the authority to rule as he did.
When asked why he was removed, Bishop Strickland suggested that “there are forces” that are moving Francis to so act, and those forces are evil.
Evil does not want the truth of Jesus Christ. Why did ancient Rome crucify Him? Because they didn’t want the truth that He was proclaiming. They saw it as disruptive. They saw it as questioning and threatening their power. (See 14:09 mark in linked video.)
I find this comment rather revealing as Sacred Scripture, by contrast, quotes St. Peter as saying that it was the “men of Israel” who “by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain Jesus” (cf Acts 2:22,23).
Get that? According to the inspired Word of God, it was the Jewish leaders who rejected Truth incarnate for fear of losing their power.
When Strickland says that ancient Rome crucified Christ, the attentive listener will hear the voice of the Council speaking, the same that produced – with invaluable input from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel – the document Nostra Aetate, the full flowering of which has led to reassurances from occupied Rome that the Jews have no need of accepting Christ for salvation.
You see, those who cling to the false conciliar religion – as Bishop Strickland clearly does – are compelled, almost reflexively, to deflect blame from the Jews for… well, just about anything… but most especially for the death of Our Lord.
The interview concluded with a heartfelt plea from Bishop Strickland to pray for “the deep and abiding conversion of Pope Francis.” (Once again, it seems rather clear that he knows, deep down though it may be, that Jorge isn’t a Catholic.)
To this end, John-Henry Westen read a prayer that was composed by Bishop Schneider in light of Strickland’s removal that begins by posing the pitiful question, “Holy Father, why are you persecuting and beating us?”
It concludes on an even more pathetic note, “We are your best friends, Most Holy Father!”
Bishop Strickland responded by voicing his admiration for Bishop Schneider. He said that he especially appreciates Schneider’s reference to the pope as the bishops’ “elder brother.” Picking up on that theme, Bishop Strickland said of Francis that we must “pray for him as an elder brother.”
Welcome to the conciliar circus, the cream-of-the-crop prelates of which publicly pray for the conversion of our “elder brother” the pope but dare not call our “elder brothers” the Jews to account, much less conversion. You can’t make this stuff up.
In conclusion, Bishop Strickland’s movement toward tradition and his willingness to speak unpopular truths aloud are noteworthy. It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for him moving forward. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain:
Unless and until Bishop Strickland frees himself of the conciliar contagion, it will act as an anchor that will eventually bring his traditional evolution, such as it has been, to a screeching halt.