Pope Francis has reportedly discussed with Vatican officials the possibility of requesting that Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas hand in his resignation.
According to The Pillar, the pope met with Archbishop Robert Prevost, OSA, head of the Dicastery for Bishops, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States on September 9, with sources close to the Dicastery telling the outlet ahead of the meeting that prelates would present to the pope the results of an apostolic visitation of Stickland’s diocese that was conducted earlier this year, as well as additional public actions taken by Strickland.
"The situation of Bishop Strickland is the agenda,” one senior official close to the dicastery told the outlet, "and the expectation is that the Holy Father will be requesting his resignation — that will certainly be the recommendation put to him."
While the meeting wasn’t exclusively about Strickland, who has accused the pope of having a "program [for] undermining the Deposit of Faith, the official said that Strickland’s case was set to be the "primary point of discussion" among the church officials.
"There are two aspects," the official said, "there is the matter of the public scandal from all these comments about the pope and the synod, but there are also real problems in the diocese. Those were the focus of the visitation; there are concerns in the diocese about governance, about financial matters, about basic prudence."
The officials said it was unlikely the pope would decide to depose Strickland as bishop, but added that he would be advised to encourage Strickland to resign.
"The consensus in the dicastery is that he will be asked to consider resigning. That has been the substance of discussion among the members."
"Depending on how the bishop responds, the strength of that encouragement could be increased."
Strickland has been critical of the pope and voiced opposition to the Holy See’s approach to vaccines during the pandemic, urging a more strict position on its usage as questions on embryonic cell lines were raised.
Strickland also led a rally outside the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game in June as the team honored the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag group that dresses in Catholic-themed drag. A prayer rally was held outside the stadium, featuring Human Events' Jack Posobiec.
"We are here today not out of hatred, not out of bigotry. We are here–and they'll never understand this, they'll never understand what we do–because this is from love," Posobiec said at the rally.
A Vatican probe was confirmed by the outlet on June 24, with a visitation taking place to review diocesan leadership and governance, conducted by Bishop Gerald Kicanas, emeritus of Tucson, and Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden.
According to The Pillar, "The visitation included questions about the governance of a diocesan high school, considerable staff turnover in the diocesan curia, the bishop’s welcome of a controversial former religious sister as a high school employee, and the bishop’s support for 'Veritatis Splendor.’"