Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Inside the VaticanDecember 13, 2023
Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, who was removed from pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, by Pope Francis Nov. 11, 2023, leads the recitation of the rosary Nov. 15 outside the site of the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (OSV News photo/Bob Roller)

Pope Francis’ recent moves to remove Bishop Joseph Strickland from his diocese in Tyler, Tex. and revoke Cardinal Raymond Burke’s salary and Vatican apartment have sent shockwaves throughout the American church and pointed to a long-standing tension between the pope and a small number of vocal critics in the U.S. In this episode of “Inside the Vatican,” host Colleen Dulle is joined by Mike Lewis to understand the pope's motivation behind these decisions, the history and ideology behind this divide between traditionalists and Pope Francis, and how we might be able to bridge that divide.

[Listen and subscribe to “Inside the Vatican” on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.]

Mike is the editor-in-chief of Where Peter Is, a blog site dedicated to helping U.S. Catholics understand Francis’ vision for the church amid intense criticism. Having covered that relationship for years, Mike explains that U.S. Catholics are prone to a rigid, ideological way of thinking that can get in the way of our conceptions of faith and legitimate authority. This tendency can put U.S. Catholics at odds with Pope Francis’ commitment to dialogue and cross-cultural encounter; Mike suggests that to some Catholics, “Pope Francis represents a capitulation to secularizing culture.” Mike encourages Catholics to look at it another way, however: “Our culture has changed, and if we are going to operate and engage within that culture, a defensive and fearful posture simply isn't going to allow the Catholic Church to have a seat at the table in society.”

Mike and Colleen discuss how these tensions have played out across debates over issues like Amoris Laetitia, the Latin Mass, the Covid-19 pandemic, and recently, the Synod on Synodality. They also explore Francis’ moves against certain critics in the hierarchy, including Cardinal Burke and Bishop Strickland. Colleen points out that the Vatican said these were administrative decisions, which complicates the narrative of Francis “showing us where the line that cannot be crossed is,” even though “some might interpret that as Francis looking for a reason to remove them while actually wanting them out because they're critical.” It’s a strained, polarized relationship, and Mike argues that there are steps Francis could take to help bridge this divide. “I don’t doubt the sincerity of Pope Francis’ critics in the U.S.,” Mike explains, and lays out steps the Pope could take to “start a dialogue and to lay out some common ground.”

Links from the show:

Where Peter Is

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

The head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication has defended his department's use of expelled Jesuit priest Marko Rupnik’s artwork in its official materials.
Colleen DulleJune 21, 2024
A conversation with Rachel L. Swarns, the author of "The 272: The Families Who were Enslaved and Sold to Build The American Catholic Church"
JesuiticalJune 21, 2024
Spanish Jesuit Luis María Roma, who died in 2019, was recently discovered to have abused hundreds of Indigenous girls while serving as a missionary in rural Bolivia, and to have documented his acts in a diary.
Members of Coro y Orquesta Misional San Xavier perform the opera “San Francisco Xavier” at the Church of San Xavier in the town of San Javier, Bolivia, on April 23. 2024.
The opera ‘San Xavier’ provides a glimpse of how Jesuits evangelized with music—a key dimension of the 1986 film “The Mission.”