TYLER, Texas (LifeSiteNews) – Catholics in Tyler, Texas, held a rosary procession over the weekend in support of Bishop Joseph Strickland after his recent removal from the Diocese of Tyler by Pope Francis.
The procession began at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and ended downtown in Tyler square. Around 400 Catholics from Tyler and other parts of Texas came to pray and show their support for Bishop Strickland, whose unwavering defense of Catholic doctrine and morals has earned him the ire of those who would see the Church embrace the newest ideologies in the name of “inclusion,” “acceptance,” and “progress.”
The rosary procession in Tyler drew Catholics from Houston and Dallas, both several hours away, with local secular news agencies reporting on the event as breaking news in Tyler.
Justin Haggerty, who led the procession, told local news outlets, “We are not here to protest. No one is going to be talking about any current events or anything that is going on. We are just going to pray the rosary.”
The Knights of the Republic, of which Haggerty is a member, organized the procession. The Catholic group is dedicated to the goal of restoring “the prestige and glory of Holy Mother Church and Christendom.”
Randy McDonald, who participated in the procession, said of Bishop Strickland, “He’s a very humble man. He’s constantly saying it’s not about him, it’s about Christ, and we want to continue to send that message.”
Strickland commented on the event on X, formerly Twitter, saying, “I pray that this effort is prayerful, respectful and focused on Jesus. He is the only support I need and I feel the profound embrace of His Sacred Heart. I appreciate the vigorous faith this is inspired by but please remember I am nothing, Jesus is everything. Viva Cristo Rey!”
Many Catholic faithful in Texas and throughout the U.S. support Strickland for his defense of Catholic teaching. Texas resident Cindy Oliveto, who adopted the slogan, “I came because of Bishop Strickland,” said, “We also knew that the Bishop stood on grounds that our modern church today is not so fond of. It’s unfortunate, but we have a sense of modernism that has been growing in the Catholic faith and it’s counter to the foundational truth that is in the Catechism,” Oliveto said.
Kent, an attorney at Wilson Elser in Tyler, also affirmed that he appreciated Strickland’s courage and outspokenness, saying, “That’s part of what I truly adored about Bishop Strickland, was his courage and his willingness to speak truth when something needed to be spoken, and certainly that has been a criticism that has been laid at his feet.”
Strickland’s removal has also drawn criticism from the ranks of the episcopacy. Bishop Rob Mutsaerts, auxiliary bishop of s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) in the Netherlands, expressed indignation about the absence of canonical recourse open to his brother bishop.
Mutsaerts wrote, “A visitation took place, and as a result Strickland was asked to resign. That he did not do. The shepherd did not want to leave his flock on its own. No specific charges were made. Strickland was not even given the opportunity to be heard. This is something Pope Francis has done before: signing the decision himself. Since the pope is the highest authority, no appeal or defense is possible. A canonical procedure would be in order, though. It is extremely unusual to be deprived of a canonical procedure. These are methods we might expect to see in North Korea, or Rome in the days of Nero. It really seems as if there are no valid reasons. At the end of the day, Strickland holds traditional views and has criticized the way things are going at the Vatican now and then. That is apparently reason enough to sack him as Bishop of Tyler.”
On November 15, Bishop Strickland led a public recitation of the Rosary in Baltimore as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) conducted its meetings for its biannual plenary session.
Meanwhile, Catholic laity in the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, assembled on November 12 at St. Joseph Cathedral for a public rosary in support of Bishop Strickland and to pray for him and Pope Francis. During the event, Catholics in Buffalo held signs in protest of the bishop’s removal. Signs read: “Punished for being Catholic,” and “Stand with Bishop Strickland,” and, “Reinstate Bishop Strickland! He committed no crime.”
On Nov. 18, traditional Catholics gathered for a rosary rally outside the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., to show support for Bishop Strickland. Noah Peters, president of the Arlington Latin Mass Society (ALMS), told LifeSiteNews, “At a time when trust in bishops is at an all-time low, Bishop Strickland is beloved, trusted and looked to as a spiritual father by Catholics due to his outspokenness for the faith and his closeness to his flock. We are particularly concerned by reports that Bishop Strickland’s removal was due to expressing widespread criticisms of Pope Francis shared by many Catholics in the United States – especially over his handling of the McCarrick sex abuse case,”
Bishop Strickland, 65, is well known among LifeSite readers for his unequivocal defense of Catholic teaching that is often cast in confusion by papal statements or messages.
Strickland’s more public positions on moral and doctrinal issues include urging Francis to deny Holy Communion to former U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi over her support of legal abortion, accusing the pope of a “program of undermining the Deposit of Faith,” and condemning the prominent pro-LGBT “blasphemy” of Father James Martin, S.J.
He has also been notably forthright on moral controversies in U.S. politics and culture, including the Biden administration’s spying on Catholics and public displays by self-described “Satanic” groups. This summer, he spoke at a protest against the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting an anti-Catholic drag queen troupe called the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” who style themselves as grotesque nuns.