Joseph Strickland, Bishop of Tyler, Texas, in the United States, lacks neither faith nor courage. While he was recently subjected to an apostolic visitation, which apparently was of an inquisitorial nature, he wrote a Pastoral Letter to the faithful in his charge to warn them against the turn taken by the world synod.
It is of course possible that the apostolic visitation carried out in this diocese of 120,000 souls was justified by irregularities or difficulties for which its pastor would be responsible, at least partially.
But the fact that Bishop Strickland regularly attacks the Gay Pride scandal and that he has publicly denounced Fr. James Martin, the Jesuit who supports homosexual marriage (and a special guest of the Pope at the next synod), undoubtedly had nothing to do with this visit. Without forgetting that one of the two visitors, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, is, to say the least, “controversial.”
A Vigorous Pastoral Letter
This background highlights the courage of the prelate who, under these conditions, did not hesitate to write a pastoral letter warning about the possible results of the next synod which is to take place in October.
The Bishop of Tyler takes up St. Paul’s famous sharp address to the Galatians: “I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema,” (Gal. 1:6-9).
Then Bishop Strickland recalls seven fundamental truths for his flock: 1.) Christ established One Church-the Catholic Church; 2.) all the sacraments are divinely instituted; 3.) the Sacrament of matrimony is instituted by God. . . establishing marriage as between one man and one woman; 4.) every human person is created in the image and likeness of God, male or female,” citing the impossibility of changing creation (against gender theory), 5.) sexual activity outside marriage is always gravely sinful; 6.) the falsity of indifferentism – which affirms that “all men and women will be saved regardless of how they live their lives;” 7.) ‘in order to follow Jesus Christ, we must willingly choose to take up our cross instead of attempting to avoid it.”
The bishop then comes to a warning: “In the weeks and months ahead, many of these truths will be examined as part of the Synod on Synodality. We must hold fast to these truths and be wary of any attempts to present an alternative to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or to push for a faith that speaks of dialogue and brotherhood, while attempting to remove the fatherhood of God.”
And finally, a note of encouragement— the terms of which have not been heard since the warnings of Archbishop Marcel Lefevre: “Regrettably, it may be that some will label as schismatic those who disagree with the changes being proposed. Be assured, however, that no one who remains firmly upon the plumb line of our Catholic faith is a schismatic.”
“We must remain unabashedly and truly Catholic, regardless of what may be brought forth. We must be aware also that it is not leaving the Church to stand firm against these proposed changes. As St. Peter said, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’ (Jn. 6:68).”
“Therefore, standing firm does not mean that we are seeking to leave the Church. Instead, those who propose changes to that which cannot be changed seek to commandeer Christ’s Church, and they are indeed the true schismatics.”
This Letter is particularly clear and strong. The conscience of the bishop expresses itself with all the charity of the father of the flock ready to give up his life for them – his life, that is, his post. This force could be contagious, for which we must pray and hope.