CV NEWS FEED // Bishop Joseph Strickland released another pastoral letter this week in which he continued to warn against a culture of relativism and universalism, noting the timeliness of this discussion as the Synod on Synodality progresses.
In the letter, Strickland emphasized that many of society’s issues stem from the ideas of universalism – a belief that one will be saved regardless of how one lives his or her life – and relativism – that nothing is objectively true.
“As we face the challenges in the world and the Church today—and in particular with the confusion of the Synod on Synodality raging even as I write this—let us be reminded that there is only one way to eternal life: ‘Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’,” wrote Strickland.
He continued: “(Universalism) is false and is dangerous, as it contradicts what Jesus tells us repeatedly in the Gospel. Jesus says we must ‘deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.’(Matt 16:24).”
To counteract the culture of universalism, Strickland advises the faithful to embrace the sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation. “We are all sinners,” and we are all “in need of a Savior,” he wrote.
“He has given us the way, through His grace, to victory over sin and death through repentance and sacramental confession,” wrote Strickland. “Through repentance and sacramental confession, every battle with temptation and sin can be a small victory that leads us to embrace the great victory that Christ has won for us.”
Strickland noted that as one continues to experience “metanoia”, a spiritual conversion, one will grow in appreciation and knowledge of the sacraments of baptism, Confirmation, and Reconciliation.
“These three sacraments in particular build on one another as our relationship with Jesus Christ grows,” wrote Strickland. “While the Church acknowledges that God is sovereign and therefore not bound to dispensing His grace through the sacraments alone, we recognize that the sacraments are essential for the Christian life and are the ordinary means that God has given to us so that we may receive sanctifying grace and the salvation He won for us on the cross.”
On August 22, 2023, Strickland released a pastoral letter to the faithful in his diocese of Tyler, Texas. In the letter, he listed seven truths about the faith.
“This letter is especially important in light of the statements we are seeing from Rome that speak of undermining ‘Human Love in the Divine Plan,’” Strickland wrote. “Let us be clear: this truth cannot be changed. As Cardinal Ladaria said in March 2021, the Church cannot bless sin. Let us instead embrace the beauty of the plan God Our Father has laid out for us, if we will only listen.”
Over the past few months, Strickland has drawn attention for his outspokenness. In May, he criticized Francis on X (formerly known as Twitter), writing that he “rejects” what he called the current pontificate’s “program for undermining the Deposit of Faith.”
In June, the Vatican sent two bishops on an apostolic visitation to the Diocese of Tyler. The bishops talked to parishioners and diocesan officials about Strickland’s leadership and his handling of diocesean resources.
On September 11, The Pillar reported that Francis held a meeting with Cardinal Robert Prevost, head of the Dicastery for Bishops, and Cardinal-elect Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, to discuss requesting Strickland’s resignation.
Strickland later suggested he would not resign if the Vatican “requested” him to step down, but would obey if he were removed.
“I have said publicly that I cannot resign as Bishop of Tyler because that would be me abandoning the flock that I was given charge of by Pope Benedict XVI,” said Strickland. “I have also said that I will respect the authority of Pope Francis if he removes me from office as Bishop of Tyler.”