Pope Francis’ intervention has been a drastic move, as senior clergy are usually pushed to resign in lieu of a full-fledged sacking. MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Pope Francis sacks ultra-conservative critic Bishop John Strickland

By Matthew Sedacca |

Pope Francis dismissed prominent conservative critic Bishop John Strickland, of Tyler, Texas, on Saturday, following an investigation earlier this year into the firebrand’s diocese.

The Vatican did not explain the reasoning for Strickland’s firing.

The move was seen as an extraordinary measure since problematic bishops in the Catholic church are usually asked or pushed to resign in lieu of an outright removal.

“The Holy Father has relieved from the pastoral governance of the diocese of Tyler (US) Joseph E. Strickland,” the Vatican said in a brief statement, adding that Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin had been named apostolic administrator of the diocese.

Strickland’s sacking came months after the Vatican launched an investigation, called an “apostolic visitation” by the church, into the Tyler diocese in June.

One US cardinal said the probe covered “all aspects of governance and leadership” in the diocese.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas, said that following the probe, it was “not feasible” for Strickland to remain in his role.

Catholic bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas walks during a procession to to protest the Los Angeles Dodgers honoring the pro-LGBTQ+ group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

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