….As the veil of secret clergy sin lifted, and a seemingly endless red tide of revelations, cover-ups, and disorderliness poured into the consciences of Catholic laity the summer of 2018, Church leaders remained, startlingly, mostly silent….
Then one morning in Baltimore, on November 13, 2018 — 146 days after the Washington Post broke the story of McCarrick’s depravity — an unknown bishop from a tiny diocese rose from his chair beneath a sky heavy with clouds. Joseph Strickland, a slender, soft-spoken man from a mostly Protestant diocese, shared a few questions he’d been asked by members of his Tyler, Texas flock. He spoke for four minutes and sixteen seconds, beginning his comments humbly and kindly, like the teenage boy who speaks for the first time to the parents of the girl he’d like to ask out on a date. Then, softly, he revealed his heart.
“The whole McCarrick reality,” he said, shrugging his shoulders in a manner that revealed awkwardness. “How did that happen if we really believe that what was going on was wrong? And I think that that is a core issue that is sort of out there in the air. We’ve heard something about the whole question of homosexuality … It’s part of our deposit of faith that we believe homosexual activity is immoral.
“The question with the McCarrick situation is — how did he get promoted, how did all that happen if we really are all of one mind that [the act of homosexuality] is wrong and sinful? There seems to be questions about that, and I think we have to face that directly. Do we believe the doctrine of the Church or not? There’s a priest [Fr. James Martin] who travels around now, basically saying that he doesn’t — and he seems to be very well promoted in various places.”
“Brothers, I think part of the fraternal correction … is to ask, ‘Can [tolerance for homosexual acts] be presented in our diocese — that same-sex marriage is just fine and the Church will one day grow to understand that. That’s not what we teach.”
When he sat back down, nothing would ever again be the same.
Why was this so? Because a number of high-powered cardinals and bishops in the large banquet hall had kept silent about McCarrick for years. And many of those same men had just been told by the uncelebrated, small-town bishop that inviting Fr. James Martin into their diocese was opening the door to scandal. Many of the bishops in the room that day had already warmly invited Fr. Martin in, helping him to become one of the most well-known priests in the world.
It took some time, but Bishop Stickland received his punishment. On Saturday, Pope Francis removed him as the Bishop of Tyler after he declined to resign from office. His removal comes after being subject to a Vatican investigation in June. The Vatican has not divulged what had prompted the investigation, or his removal….
Perhaps 100 years from now, the name Strickland will have attached to it “removed as bishop from Tyler, Texas for administrative failures.”
But I know him to be a good man, as good as any out there — a bishop who lived in a simple one-story adobe and spent countless hundreds of hours there in front of a small monstrance. He did the small things that seemed big to the Texans who loved him. He held high a large monstrance at Tyler’s busiest intersections during the heart of Covid. He weekly joined to lead the Rosary at a women’s Rosary group….
If we love Bishop Strickland, it’s fair to consider what he told LifeSiteNews editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen after his removal on Saturday. “Pray for Pope Francis.”
From Crisis magazine