My Thoughts Regarding the Apostolic Visitation of Bishop Strickland.
I'm gong to jump right into this. No bells or whistles, just my thoughts on the situation as reported by National Catholic Register, and my personal observations. I'm not a disciple of any of the "celebrities" of Catholic culture. My celebrities are Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Saints. They're the only one's I'm fanatic about, whose words and opinions and example matter to me.
Photo is by the Diocese of Tyler. Pull quotes below are from an article by National Catholic Register
Starting literally at the top of the article by the Register I was Immediately surprised by the subtitle subtitle which hit me like a joke whose punchline I get but I don't find funny.
"...Bishop Strickland, 64, has faced criticism for what some critics see as intemperate social-media posts."
Huh?! Intemperate social-media posts? I've been following Bishop Strickland on Twitter for quite a while and I have never observed his posts or writing to be intemperate. Bold, maybe, but not intemperate. So this assessment really surprised me.
Maybe the problem is the Bishop talks the way I think Bishops should talk, more often than not. He talks like a Bishop from a hundred years ago, but it's not how Bishops are encouraged to talk today. So from that point of view his posts aren't intemperate so much as modern ecclesiastical rhetoric has become rather shallow, making any depth look like extremism. Similar to how normal, ordinary conservatives today are labeled as "right wing extremists" compared to how "progressivism" has changed the culture.
"The inquiry, known as an apostolic visitation...points to possible disciplinary action against Bishop Strickland, a widely popular though polarizing Texas firebrand viewed as a culture-war champion by many U.S. conservatives for his staunch defense of the unborn, marriage, the traditional Latin liturgy and Catholic orthodoxy."
Polarizing? Are you kidding me? Seriously, what am I missing here? I know how "culture warriors" sound, how they write and speak. I recognize them when I see them but I have never recognized Strickland as being of that camp. And why is he seen as a "culture warrior", "firebrand" and "polarizing?" This one will really make you laugh!
"for his staunch defense of the unborn, marriage, the traditional Latin liturgy and Catholic orthodoxy."
I'll pause a moment for your laughter to run dry.
I can see the "Latin liturgy" thing standing out from the rest of those subjects, but defense of the unborn, defense of marriage, and Catholic orthodoxy are normal and timely Catholic issues that every bishop should be publicly addressing on some level because a Bishop's first calling is not simply the governance of his diocese but to teach, to preach, and to defend the Gospel. Strickland seems to be living this calling. I really don't understand why these are seen as red flag topics.
However, his record isn't completely clean, in my opinion.
A Tweet by the Bishop on May 12 suggested that Pope Francis was "undermining the Deposit of Faith"
This tweet stood out for a lot of people. I remember when it made the rounds on Twitter. There were a lot of comments, ReTweets, and both support and outrage over it. Is Strickland's assessment correct? I don't think so. I have to agree with his critics on this one. I don't see the Pope undermining the the Deposit of Faith, but maybe the Bishop sees something I do not. Still, I don't think Bishop Strickland should say this sort of thing in openly. I'm a major (MA-jor!) proponent of Catholic unity, particularly within the ranks of the faithful. This is the military, not the Boy Scouts. I don't like the "us vs. them" culture and I don't like sergeants openly attacking the officers in front of the troops. Right or wrong, the Bishop should keep that opinion to himself. There is nothing at all to gain from a comment like that. Nothing good, anyway.
Side Note: See my article on Conscience (at my Substack site) where I talk about some of the Pope's statements on Conscience, and how they were misunderstood by people who didn't recognize the theology he was reflecting in his word selection.
More recently there was his participation in a Eucharistic procession and protest in Las Angeles when the L.A. Dodgers hosted anti-Catholic drag group, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
"Not one to sit on the sidelines, he recently played a prominent role in a Eucharistic procession and prayer rally in Los Angeles on June 16, organized to protest Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers for honoring an anti-Catholic drag group at the team’s annual “Pride Night” game."
This one bothered me. I don't know if he organized it, or just participated in it. But either way it's really inappropriate for a Bishop to do these things outside of his own diocese. As much as I supported the protest, and the Eucharistic procession, I was a little disappointed by the breach of ecclesiastical norms. It's not just politics, it's a violation of traditional Catholic culture. It matters.
Overall I support Bishop Strickland—at least for the moment. Let's see what happens. Maybe the man isn't perfect, and maybe there are things going on that I'm not aware of. But Bishop Strickland seems like a good bishop, leader (his diocese is flourishing!) and pastor of souls. That's my opinion, based on observation over time. Maybe something will change that opinion. I'll wait and see what comes of this visitation.