VATICAN CITY, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Pope Francis has fired Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas, one of his staunchest critics among American Catholic conservatives, a Vatican statement said on Saturday.
It is very rare that a Catholic bishop is simply relieved of his functions. Usually, bishops in trouble with the Vatican are asked to resign before submitting their resignation, which the pope accepts.
Popes take such measures, considered drastic, when a bishop refuses a resignation request. Strickland is 65, 10 years younger than the usual retirement age for bishops.
Strickland, a prolific social media user who had served as bishop of the diocese since 2012, tweeted earlier this year that he rejected the Pope’s “agenda undermining the deposit of faith.”
The firing follows a Vatican investigation earlier this year into the administration of the Diocese of Tyler, which Catholic media reported included a review of its handling of financial affairs.
The dismissal was announced simultaneously by the Vatican and the American 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, the statement said.
Reporting by Phil Pullella, writing by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Kirsten Donovan
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