Strickland, U.S. Bishop’s Social Media Sows Division

By Christopher Lamb, 23 May 2023
Image: Shutterstock.


The German church’s synodal path has sparked plenty of talk about a possible schism or even a second Reformation. But while plenty of criticisms can be made of Der Synodale Weg, a potentially more severe threat to unity is looming in Texas.

Joseph Strickland, the Bishop of Tyler, in Texas, recently told his almost 116,000 followers on Twitter that although he believes “Pope Francis is the Pope,” he rejects Francis’ “program of undermining the Deposit of Faith.” He added: “follow Jesus,” with the implication being that somehow the Pope isn’t.

The synodal process, with its emphasis on listening and dialogue, offers an antidote to the polarization in politics and the wider culture which has infected the church. Father Timothy Radcliffe, the Dominican friar who Pope Francis asked to lead a retreat for the October synod assembly members, has talked about the synod as “daring to open yourself to people who’ve got views other than your own.” It’s a process, he says, that can help break people out of their “bubbles” and “sterile culture wars.” The invitation is there for anyone who wishes to take part.

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Christopher Lamb is Vatican Correspondent for The Tablet and author of The Outsider: Pope Francis and His Battle to Reform the Church

With thanks to Go, Rebuild My House, a publication of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States.


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