Bishop Strickland Demonstrates Humility with SSPX ‘Flip Flop’

It is fitting that just in time for ‘pride’ month – or pride season – if you live in Canada, that a good bishop demonstrated humility in the public forum.

A couple of weeks ago Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas tweeted the following: “Schismatic movements like SSPX or Sedevacantists however well-intended are an injury to the body of Christ.”

It was May 13, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima, and I was on my way to a wedding at an SSPX Chapel when I was sent the tweet. My first reaction was essentially, “Well this sucks.”

Bishop Strickland in many ways has been quite the champion of conservative and traditional Catholic viewpoints and opinions in recent years. He has been strong on dogma in the public forum and was very good when it came to defending the conscience rights of Catholics who did not want to inject themselves with an abortion-tainted substance that they were not comfortable with.

Furthermore, in 2020 he celebrated his first Traditional Latin Mass. About the experience he said:

I have to say, I could hardly say the words of consecration because I became so filled with emotion, so deeply struck by those words. Thank God we only must whisper them in this rite, because I am not sure I would have been able to speak above that whisper, so struck I was at the profundity. It was the first time in my life that I had ever said those words in Latin, and I could hardly get them out. It’s indescribable, really.

I remember reading his words in 2020 and was moved by how honest he was about his experience with the Old Mass. He was ordained in 1985 and had never said the TLM, and I imagine it took a lot of humility to submit himself to the training and study needed to say the Mass of the Ages as a bishop so late in his career. What an amazing witness of openness to Tradition by such a strong defender of Catholicism in America.

In addition, when I saw his tweet against the SSPX and a seeming equivocation of the Society with the various sedevacantist groups, I couldn’t help but think that a storm of criticisms and attacks would be coming for people like myself. For the most part, the strong bishops in the public forum have been quite kind to the SSPX, or even promoters of Lefebvre’s spiritual sons, so this statement by Strickland offered a rare bit of blood in the water for the malcontents who live and die for reasons to yell “schismatic” at people like myself.

During the wedding Mass, which was exceptionally done thanks in large part to the magnificent sermon and the world-class choir directed by my dear friend, I prayed very hard for the good bishop, and also prepared for an onslaught of insults and “I told you so” from the usual suspects.

However, in dramatic fashion, Bishop Strickland tweeted a correction to his previously held opinion, stating: “A correction…as Bishop Schneider has stated, the SSPX is not in schism. The SSPX continues to hold Tradition out for the Universal Church.”

What a whirlwind!

One minute I was preparing for the Catholic tabloids to excommunicate and anathematize every man woman and child who holds Archbishop Lefebvre dearly in their hearts, and the next minute the whole conversation turned 180 degrees.

We should add that we have Bishop Schneider to thank in many regards, as he has been a champion for the SSPX, which is fitting because he was an official visitator of the Society in 2015.

As an aside, it should tell us something that those bishops who have an intimate understanding of the SSPX always seem to come out swinging in favour of Lefebvre and his priests, whereas the harshest critiques tend to come from those who do not.

At any rate, what is most impressive about Bishop Strickland’s public change of opinion about the Society is not merely that he recognized the obvious truth that the SSPX is not, in fact, schismatic. Respectfully, as it stands in 2023, to say that the SSPX is schismatic is essentially to deny reality. This is because it is impossible for priests that are suspended to receive faculties or have their faculties recognized by Rome, let alone for priests who aren’t even in the Church to have faculties. The SSPX clearly has faculties for confession and matrimony as stated explicitly by Rome, which is an obvious sign that they are in the Church.

Of course, some members of the unelected YouTube magisterium will tell you that contrary to the facts, the SSPX is still somehow schismatic because they somehow do not submit to the Pope, and that we should ignore the Pope and submit to their opinions. As the saying goes, “If they did not have double standards, they would have no standards at all.”

But as I said – what is most impressive is not that he recognized what some cannot, but rather that he admitted he was wrong.

During his weekly radio show with Virgin Most Powerful Radio, Strickland told co-host Terry Barber on Tuesday that even bishops must be “willing to learn” when they discussed the SSPX Twitter saga. In fairness, he also said that he did not know all that much about the situation, which he described as “complicated,” and that he wanted to know more.

Well, if His Excellency is willing to read a book that, I believe, presents a strong defence of the SSPX… I do happen to know a guy who could provide him with the requisite literature.

In all seriousness, we would do well to praise the good bishop for his humility in a world that celebrates the deadly sin of pride as if it were a virtue.

Thank you, Your Excellency, for demonstrating a true episcopal spirit in an age of hirelings.


Photo credit.

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