Bishop Strickland Refused to Resign, Cardinal DiNardo Says

‘Having been presented with that request on Nov. 9, 2023, Bishop Strickland declined to resign from office,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo shared in a statement Nov. 11.

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas. (photo: Peytonlow / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pope Francis removed Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, from his post Saturday after he refused to resign, according to Galveston-Houston archbishop Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.

Bishop Strickland’s ouster on Nov. 11 comes after the Vatican Dicastery for Bishops completed a formal investigation in the diocese earlier this year called an apostolic visitation, which, according to a source, looked into the bishop’s social media use and questions related to diocesan management. The visitation was carried out by Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, New Jersey, and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona.

“As a result of the visitation, the recommendation was made to the Holy Father that the continuation in office of Bishop Strickland was not feasible,” Cardinal DiNardo said in his Nov. 11 statement. 

“After months of careful consideration by the Dicastery for Bishops and the Holy Father, the decision was reached that the resignation of Bishop Strickland should be requested,” Cardinal DiNardo continued. “Having been presented with that request on Nov. 9, 2023, Bishop Strickland declined to resign from office. Thereafter, on Nov. 11, 2023, the Holy Father removed Bishop Strickland from the Office of Bishop of Tyler.”

Bishop Strickland, 65, served as bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, a suffragan diocese of Galveston-Houston, since 2012. The widely popular though polarizing Texas bishop had faced criticism for his firebrand social media posts, including a May 12 tweet that suggested Pope Francis was “undermining the Deposit of Faith.”

The Vatican announcement did not provide a reason for the bishop’s removal. Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin will serve as the apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Tyler until a new bishop is appointed.

The Diocese of Tyler released a statement Saturday morning announcing Bishop Strickland’s removal and Bishop Vásquez’s appointment.

“Our work as the Catholic Church in northeast Texas continues. Our mission is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to foster an authentic Christian community, and to serve the needs of all people with compassion and love,” the statement said. “We strive to deepen our faith, promote the common good, and create a welcoming environment for all to encounter the loving God — Father, Son, and Spirit.”

“During this time of transition, we pray that God may continue to abundantly bless and strengthen the Church and God’s holy, faithful people here and around the world.”

Rome correspondent Courtney Mares contributed to this story. This story was updated after posting.