The Vatican said in a statement that the bishop was removed from official responsibilities of the church and replaced by Bishop Joe Vasquez of the Diocese of Austin. The Pope’s decision to excommunicate Strickland, 65, came after a two-member special team from the Vatican visited the Texas Diocese last June.
Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland, appointed by former Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, has been one of Pope Francis’ most prominent critics. Joseph Strickland was known as a dissident bishop for his continuous criticism of Pope Francis and the decisions and proposals of the Church. The conservative bishop had made statements opposing Pope Francis’ stances on abortion and the treatment of transgender people.
According to the report submitted by the special team, the bishop was instructed by the Vatican to leave voluntarily. The Pope issued the excommunication order after the bishop rejected the proposal. Joseph Strickland’s position was that he would not step down without completing the instructions and duties given by the late former Pope, Pope Benedict XVI.
It is rare for a bishop to be removed from the papacy. It is customary for bishops to resign when they reach the age of 75. The Vatican routinely applies pressure to remove a bishop if it finds administrative problems or other serious circumstances. The decision to dismiss the bishop without releasing the report of the investigation conducted by a team from the Vatican has raised objections from the conservative community.
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