From the USCCB: 

Pope Francis has relieved the Most Reverend Joseph E. Strickland from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler. At the same time, the Holy Father has appointed the Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, as the Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Diocese of Tyler.

These provisions were publicized in Washington, D.C. on November 11, 2023, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The Diocese of Tyler is comprised of 23,443 square miles in the State of Texas and has a total population of 1,436,247, of which 119,168, are Catholic.

Stay tuned.

CNA has this:

Strickland’s removal on Nov. 11 comes after the Vatican Dicastery for Bishops completed a formal investigation in the diocese earlier this year called an apostolic visitation, which, according to a source, looked into the bishop’s social media use and questions related to diocesan management.

Strickland, 65, served as bishop of the Diocese of Tyler since 2012. The widely popular though polarizing Texas bishop had faced criticism for his firebrand social media posts, including a May 12 tweet that suggested Pope Francis was “undermining the Deposit of Faith…”

… Pope Francis met with American Cardinal Robert Francis Prevost, the prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, on Saturday morning before Strickland’s removal was announced.

The pope’s decision to relieve Strickland of his pastoral governance of the east Texas diocese comes just two days before the start of the U.S. bishops’ fall plenary meeting which will be held Nov. 13-16 in Baltimore, Maryland.

From AP, there’s this important context: 

It is rare for the pope to forcibly remove a bishop from office. Bishops are required to offer to resign when they reach 75. When the Vatican uncovers issues with governance or other problems that require a bishop to leave office before then, the Vatican usually seeks to pressure him to resign for the good of his diocese and the church.

That was the case when another U.S. bishop was forced out earlier this year following a Vatican investigation. Knoxville, Tenn. Bishop Richard Stika resigned voluntarily, albeit under pressure, following allegations he mishandled sex abuse allegations, and his priests complained about his leadership and behavior.

But with Strickland, the Vatican statement made clear he had not offered to resign, and that Francis had instead “relieved” him from his job.

The bishop’s departure has evidently been in the works for a while, as RNS reported in September: 

As rumors swirl that Pope Francis may ask for the resignation of Catholic Bishop Joseph Strickland, the firebrand conservative who oversees the Diocese of Tyler in Texas said he has heard nothing from the Vatican but signaled he would not give up his post voluntarily.

According to public Vatican records, Pope Francis met on Saturday with Archbishop Robert Prevost, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio, or ambassador, to the United States, among others. What the three discussed in the meeting was not made public, but a conservative-leaning website, The Pillar, has claimed the meeting touched on whether to ask for the resignation of Strickland, who has stoked controversy in recent years for everything from resistance to COVID-19 vaccines to criticizing the pope.

The Vatican did not immediately respond to requests to confirm The Pillar’s account of the confab.

Rumors of Strickland being asked to resign, amplified by LifeSiteNews and other right-wing Catholic websites, come after an apostolic visitation to Strickland’s diocese in June, a rare disciplinary investigation by the Holy See. The visitation, in turn, followed a November 2021 incident in which Strickland was privately chastised by Pierre during a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Meanwhile, back in May, NCR offered some examples of Bishop Strickland’s strong and very public criticism of Pope Francis:

The controversial Catholic bishop of Tyler, Texas, announced May 12 on Twitter that he believes Pope Francis is “undermining the Deposit of Faith.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland, a vocal critic of Francis who in recent years has invited the pope to “fire” him and endorsed videos attacking the current pontiff as a “diabolically disordered clown,” said he acknowledges the validity of Francis’ election to the papacy, but exhorted: “Follow Jesus.”

Strickland questioned Francis’ fidelity to the Catholic faith in a tweet in which he sought to distance himself from statements made by a far-right Catholic podcaster who has questioned whether Francis is the real bishop of Rome.

The provocative tweet prompted some priests, deacons and Catholic intellectuals on Twitter to accuse Strickland of flirting with schism and of disobeying his episcopal vow of obedience to the pope.

“Sorry to read those comments, Bishop. If that’s where your conscience is leading you, you should do the honorable thing and resign,” Deacon William T. Ditewig, the former director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for the Diaconate, tweeted in response to Strickland.

UPDATE: NCR’s Brian Fraga, meanwhile, has some fresh reporting on what has been happening in Tyler:

“The shocking part for me was not that [Strickland] was going against Pope Francis, but seeing a Catholic bishop behaving like a fundamentalist Protestant in being so dismissive of the idea that there is a church authority that he has to obey,” said Massimo Faggioli, a theologian and church historian at Villanova University…

… Some Catholics in the Tyler Diocese were not surprised and told NCR that the pope’s move to sideline the outspoken conservative prelate was long overdue.

“People have been writing to the nuncio [Vatican ambassador] for years about [Strickland], all related to how he was running his diocese,” said Cindy Plummer, a former diocesan official who was among several female diocesan employees abruptly laid off in 2018.

In June, the Vatican launched a formal investigation, known as an apostolic visitation, into the Tyler Diocese. A priest who was interviewed for the visitation told NCR that retired Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, and Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, New Jersey, conducted the visitation. He said the bishops, accompanied by two priests, asked several questions related to financial matters, Strickland’s leadership style and how it affected the morale of the priests in his diocese.

The priest, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality the investigating bishops asked of him, also said they asked questions about priests and religious men and women with irregular canonical statuses taking up residence in the Tyler Diocese in recent years. In addition, the priest said the bishops asked him what he thought Strickland understood the “deposit of faith to mean,” and whether the priest thought Strickland’s episcopacy was “salvageable.” The priest said he told the bishops it was not.

Finally, the cardinal archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Daniel DiNardo, released this statement: 

In June of this year, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, directed that an Apostolic Visitation of the Diocese of Tyler should be conducted. Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas of Tucson were appointed to conduct the Visitation. The Prelates conducted an exhaustive inquiry into all aspects of the governance and leadership of the Diocese of Tyler by its Ordinary, Bishop Joseph Strickland.

As a result of the Visitation, the recommendation was made to the Holy Father that the continuation in office of Bishop Strickland was not feasible. After months of careful consideration by the Dicastery for Bishops and the Holy Father, the decision was reached that the resignation of Bishop Strickland should be requested. Having been presented with that request on November 9, 2023, Bishop Strickland declined to resign from office. Thereafter, on November 11, 2023, the Holy Father removed Bishop Strickland from the Office of Bishop of Tyler.

Pending more permanent arrangements for the Diocese of Tyler, the Holy Father has, at the same time, appointed Bishop Joe Vasquez, Bishop of Austin, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Tyler. Let us keep Bishop Strickland, the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Tyler, and Bishop Vasquez in our prayers.

Photo: Vatican Media