Earlier this year, Pope Francis sent two bishops on an apostolic visitation to conduct an exhaustive inquiry into "all aspects of the governance and leadership of the Diocese of Tyler by its Ordinary, Bishop Joseph Strickland."
Months later, after Strickland refused an offer to resign, word has come that Pope Francis has personally decided to remove Strickland from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler.
The Vatican has not provided an official explanation for Strickland's removal, but the bishop has since told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview that he can probably guess the reason.
"Forces in the Church right now don't want the truth of the gospel," he said. "They want it changed. They want it ignored. They want to be rid of the truth that is gloriously not going to go away."
Strickland, who is known for teaching that the Church must stick with the Bible and not be swayed by those who oppose it, says he does not fully blame Pope Francis for his removal.
"There are many forces working at him and influencing him to make these kinds of decisions," he noted. "I really can't look to any reason except I've threatened some of the powers that be with the truth of the gospel that will not change, that cannot change. It's perennial. It's everlasting. It's glorious, and if you want it to change, then I'm a problem."
Hugh Brown of the American Life League calls Bishop Strickland's firing "an injustice."
"We don't know the facts; we don't know the details. We know what Bishop Strickland has said, and he's asked us to be humble," Brown relays. "He's asked us to pray for the Holy Father. He's asked us to pray for him and to pray for the Catholic Church, and that's what we fully intend to do."
He tells AFN faithful members of the Church know and appreciate Strickland's unwavering position on scripture.
"You have a man who stood up for Christ, and now he's been dismissed," the pro-lifer summarizes. "He's still a priest, but he's lost his diocese. We obviously fully support him and don't agree with this at all, but clearly, it's a sad day for people that love men who are courageous, and he's one of them."
"The scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ is the face of truth," Strickland told LifeSiteNews. "He doesn't morph into a different being than He was when He died on the cross and rose for us. He is the same Lord; He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and those who want to change that, for a day, in terms of human history, we have to live through this day, but it's a moment that will pass, and the truth will prevail."
As for his future, the 65-year-old priest is unsure of what is next for him, but regarding the Catholic Church, he encourages the faithful to remain faithful.