[Updated 9 July 2022 at 11:15pm EDT — see below]

This morning, Bishop Joseph Strickland shared a link to a video entitled “Pope Francis, Nancy Pelosi & the Tyrannical Culture of Death.” The video, which was released July 3, was produced by the traditionalist publication The Remnant, and features editor Michael Matt railing against Pope Francis and his leadership. In it, Matt hurls numerous accusations against the pope, including the statement that Francis is “codifying great reset principles” into Church law. Strickland describes the video as “A sad commentary on the Church and state in our time.”

In the video promoted by Bishop Strickland — which focuses on the issues of denying communion to pro-choice politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Pope Francis’s restrictions on the Tridentine Mass — Michael Matt makes many inflammatory statements against the pope, raising serious questions about Bishop Strickland’s fidelity to the pope and his acceptance of the Second Vatican Council. For example, in the video Matt says that Pope Francis has made “a move I believe is worthy of Judas Iscariot. Allowing the godless left to divide Christ’s Church on earth is a sin and we should all be praying for the salvation of the soul of Pope Francis tonight.”

Other statements in the video include:

  • “Rome and Pope Francis have lost teaching authority.”
  • “I have no temptation to leave my Church for the same reason that Francis is always attacking it, because it’s the true Church and a diabolically disoriented clown like Francis knows that it is it’s his job to destroy this Church because he has to get rid of true religion.”
  • “Francis isn’t even pretending to be a moral authority on anything other than climate change and equity.”
  • “This pope is preaching an entirely new gospel, and under his guidance the Catholic Church, which used to be consider the light on the hill…the Catholic Church cannot now be trusted.”
  • “Francis is in opposition to 2000 years of Church teaching.”
  • “Francis is just all laughs and giggles and hugs. I mean for heaven’s sake.”
  • Christian teaching “is all being gradually undermined by the Francis experiment, which of course is just a continuation of the experiment of the Second Vatican Council”

Is it acceptable for a bishop of the Catholic Church to promote videos that publicly undermine communion with the pope? What message does this send to the Catholics of his diocese (not to mention everyone who views his social media posts)?

In the video, Matt offers praise for the bishop, saying “God bless Bishop Strickland because he hung right in there and said wherever Nancy Pelosi receives Holy Communion — doesn’t matter where it is — she still has to follow the rules, and she simply is not. So we’re beginning to see little cracks, little hopeful cracks here finally.”

Note that can. 1373 in the Church’s Code of Canon Law says:

“A person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry or provokes subjects to disobey them is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties.”

Bishop Strickland is no stranger to controversy. In November 2019, he accidentally shared a link to a sedevacantist website on his Twitter feed (he later apologized for the confusion). He has publicly and repeatedly praised and supported the controversial suspended priest, Fr. James Altman, on many occasions. He has shared videos featuring Altman that have scandalized members of the faithful with racist content, foul language, and the false assertion that one cannot be both a Catholic and a member of the Democratic Party.

Bishop Strickland has promoted misinformation about the Covid pandemic and vaccines on numerous occasions. He has ignored the pope’s call to get the Covid vaccine as an “act of love” for others, instead discouraging Catholics from getting vaccinated. He has rejected the moral licety of receiving the Covid vaccine, contrary to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s December 2020 teaching.

Where Peter Is has documented many of his controversial statements and social media posts over the years, as he has repeatedly and regularly promoted conspiracy theories, political opinions, misinformation, dissent from the Magisterium, and opposition to Pope Francis and his teachings. One begins to wonder how much more of this type of behavior can a Catholic bishop indulge in before he is held accountable?

UPDATE 9 JULY 2022 11:15 PM EDT (Mike Lewis)

This evening, Bishop Strickland quote-tweeted his original Tweet, writing, “My intention with this was not to disparage Pope Francis but to acknowledge how devastating this commentary is. The sanctity of life and the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist are our foundations.” He did not remove or apologize for the original Tweet, nor did he express disagreement or disapproval of its contents. Furthermore, the bishop did not provide an explanation of precisely what he means when he describes the commentary as “sad” and “devastating.”


Image: By Peytonlow at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35847681

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Husband, father of six, idea-tinkerer. Having briefly lived amongst the cacti and coyotes of Arizona, Brian now resides in the Canadian prairies.  Brian is a co-conspirator of Where Peter Is.

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