Since Bishop Strickland was unceremoniously removed from his post in Tyler, Texas, there have been some reactions that have been a bit nutty. Those who are aptly called “popesplainers”—someone who “splains” or explains for the pope, no matter what he does—have been having a victory parade online. Cries of “far-right extremist” and “extremist election denier” have made the rounds. These men are having a field day with a lot of “splaining to do,” and it is nauseating to witness.
One popesplainer named Rich Raho, who calls himself a Catholic theologian, cited the pendragon of sanity and virtue Rachel Maddow and tweeted that Bishop Strickland called for an “overthrow of the [2020 presidential] election.” You might be thinking to yourself, “Does this mean that this man is publicly accusing the good bishop of calling for an act of civil usurpation and an overthrow of the governmental system of the United States?” Well, it seems that he is at least implying it.
Amazing. Not only is Bishop Strickland a big old meanie who likes the Latin Mass and has the clarity of mind to call a spade a spade when it comes to Pope Francis, but he is also, apparently, a leader in an insurrectionist movement hell-bent on a revolution that would shake the United States to the core!
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Move over Mussolini, Strickland is here to outdo your March on Rome and lead his own March on Washington with a bunch of gun-toting Texans.
As an aside, it is amazing that people with this level of cognitive dissonance are allowed to obtain a driver’s license, let alone vote in an election…that apparently Bishop Strickland is planning to overthrow.
Now, if you thought that this reaction would qualify as the craziest reaction to the sad news out of Tyler, you would be wrong! In fact, not only is Bishop Strickland supposedly a would-be dictator in a miter, he might even be a murderer, or at least an advocate of the needless death of innocent people. At least according to the king of popesplainers, Austen Ivereigh.
Pope Francis’ very own George Weigel wannabe one-upped Raho and quote tweeted his post, adding:
Plus +Strickland’s pastoral letters opposing the Covid vaccines as unethical (despite Vatican making clear it was right to use them) had consequences. A priest of Tyler told me that in his mostly migrant parish many families suffered deaths as a result of obeying their bishop.
As the kids say today, this tweet was “wildin.” Let us break this fit of mental instability down for a moment, leaving aside the whole Covid debate and the debate about vaccines in general and whether or not this particular hot-off-the-press jab worked as advertised. (Spoiler alert, it didn’t!)
First, Ivereigh makes no distinctions and gives no context to what Strickland actually said. In November 2020, he tweeted that the Moderna vaccine “is not morally produced. Unborn children died in abortions and their bodies were used as ‘laboratory specimens.’ I urge all who believe in the sanctity of life to reject a vaccine which has been produced immorally.”
Was he wrong? Of course not. While the different vaccines available were produced with more or less direct cooperation with abortion, it is a fact that the mainline jabs available were produced or sent to market only after at least some cooperation with abortion, even if remote. Furthermore, did Strickland say one should not receive a vaccine that was ethically produced? No, he did not.
There is no record of Strickland saying that someone should in principle reject, for example, the Novavax jab, which was not produced with the same links to abortion. Again, I am not going to get into spike proteins and the question of vaccines in general; I only use this as an example of a vaccine that was in some way “pro-life friendly” and that Strickland did not tell his flock that Catholics should reject vaccines on principle.
Furthermore, nowhere did Bishop Strickland say it would be a mortal sin for someone to take an abortion-tainted jab if a given situation presented itself. At the risk of seeming like I am partial to abortion-tainted jabs—which I am not!—sound moral theology would tell us that there are situations that are grave wherein a Catholic could take a jab with an immoral history. Again, I am not saying one should do this, but I am simply saying that it is not a mortal sin to do so, and even the most hardline anti-jab skeptics would be crossing a line if they said it was.
As an example, I know that in Canada it is impossible to receive an injection for rabies that is ethical in the sense of being unrelated to any pro-life considerations. Let’s say that a rabid Canadian raccoon bites your leg. Well, in that case you are not under any obligation to die rather than allow the doc to give you the medicine, even if you wish there was another way. Also, I am not saying the Covid jab situation was the same as this, I am only pointing out a for instance.
At any rate, Ivereigh was not content simply spreading misinformation about Strickland’s vaccine comments, as he wanted to impugn Strickland of the “consequences” of not taking the abortion-tainted jab. Apparently, an unnamed priest in Tyler told Ivereigh that “many families” in his mostly migrant parish died as a result of their obedience to their bishop.
The insinuation is these poor migrants, out of their unyielding obedience to their bishop, were dropping like flies from Covid because they didn’t take the jab. Leaving aside the unproven nature of this claim and the massive logical leaps needed to make such a claim, I would like to say thank you to Ivereigh for encouraging the faithful to think twice about obeying their bishop. Ivereigh has given us a perfect example of how the faithful can in good conscience disobey their bishop when their health is at risk, demonstrating that when we are not speaking of faith and morals, Catholics are free to think critically about whether they should or should not obey their bishop.
Of course, Ivereigh’s comments on the matter are insane and unsubstantiated, but I applaud his inadvertent example of how one can rightfully disobey a bishop. Who knows, maybe I will see Ivereigh at an SSPX chapel the next time I am on the road!
In any case, did you notice that Ivereigh slipped in the word “migrant” for a little extra oomph? Of course, he did not say that migrants died; he only insinuated, without evidence, that Catholics from a parish with migrants died. But we all know why he said what he said. You see, this makes Strickland not only look like an accessory to murder but a racist at that. This is, of course, patently absurd, as Strickland is fluent in Spanish and has appeared on Latino Catholic podcasts.
Now, the readers of Crisis know that Ivereigh is not trustworthy and is capable of such shenanigans, but I must say, even for the popesplainer-in-chief, it is a bit surprising for him to insinuate that the good bishop is somehow responsible, even if remotely—insert remote cooperation vaccine joke—for the deaths of members of his flock.
Let this be a warning: the enemies of Strickland will call you a murderer if you don’t get with the program.
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