Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, is well known throughout America and on social media for his orthodox teachings on the Deposit of Faith and his fearless zeal for preaching the truth of Catholic faith and morals against our Culture of Death, as St. John Paul II called it.
However, on May 12, Bishop Strickland posted a controversial tweet in which he wrote, “I believe Pope Francis is the Pope, but it is time for me to say that I reject his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith.” (https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/bishop-strickland-they-wont-step).
In June, an apostolic visitation was conducted in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas.
The Holy See defines an apostolic visitation as “an exceptional initiative of the Holy See which involves sending a Visitor or Visitors to evaluate an ecclesiastical institute such as a seminary, diocese, or religious institute. Apostolic Visitations are intended to assist the institute in question to improve the way in which it carries out its function in the life of the Church.”
No report of the apostolic visitation in the diocese of Tyler has been released.
As a former trial lawyer and judge, it is my opinion that Bishop Strickland’s tweet could be credibly construed as a false accusation made by Bishop Strickland against Pope Francis, his ecclesiastical Superior, in violation of canon law.
Canon 1390 (2) provides that “A person who calumniously denounces some other offence to an ecclesiastical Superior, or otherwise unlawfully injures the good name of another, is to be punished according to the provision of can. 1336 §§ 2-4, to which moreover a censure may be added.
§3. The calumniator must also be compelled to make appropriate amends.”(https://www.vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/eng/documents/cic_lib6-cann1364-1399_en.html#OFFENCES_AGAINST_REPUTATION_AND_THE_OFFENCE_OF_FALSEHOOD).
Canon 1390 (2) may be applicable to Bishop Strickland’s tweet as follows:
“A person [Bishop Strickland] who calumniously [falsely] denounces some other offence [Bishop Strickland’s apparently false accusation of Pope Francis’ program of undermining the Deposit of Faith] to an ecclesiastical Superior [Pope Francis], or otherwise unlawfully injures the good name of another [Pope Francis], is to be punished according to the provision of can. 1336 §§ 2-4, to which moreover a censure may be added.
§3. The calumniator must also be compelled to make appropriate amends.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 2477 provides as follows:
Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty…. of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
Apparently, J.D. Flynn, a former canonical prosecutor, believes that there may be sufficient credible evidence that Bishop Strickland could be charged with a violation of canon law. He said, with reference to Bishop Strickland’s May 12 tweet about Pope Francis, “I would prosecute that statement.”
Listen to him at minute 39 and following at this link: (https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/ep-131-the-diocese-of-strickland ).
J.D. Flynn is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Pillar newsletter and website. Formerly, he was Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver and a senior advisor to Bishop James Conley in the Diocese of Lincoln.
Let us pray through the intercession of Our Lady of America that Bishop Strickland will make “appropriate amends” towards reconciliation between him and Pope Francis.
Let us also pray that the bishops of America solemnly process and place the statue of Our Lady of America in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and honor her there in a special way as “Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin”.
Our Lady requested this and promised that the placement of her statue in the National Shrine would be a safeguard for our country. Therefore, it is our prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide the bishops to honor and grant Our Lady’s request. Please sign the Petition here.