Texas bishop leads protest outside Catholic bishops’ conference in Baltimore

WBAL-TV, NBC-11 [Baltimore MD]

November 15, 2023

By Kate Amara

The largest, loudest and longest demonstration outside the meeting of Catholic bishops in Baltimore came Wednesday, led by a Texas bishop who was removed from his post by the pope four days ago.

The annual fall meeting of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore hasn’t come without controversy. Three days of meetings at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront in Harbor East drew a variety of protest groups.

Bishop Joseph Strickland, 65, has become known for criticism of Pope Francis. The action came after the pope moved to make the church more welcoming to LGBTQIA+ Catholics.

Strickland and others in an ultra-conservative crowd are calling on the bishops attending the conference to go backward.

“I think it’s a huge arrogance of our time to think we’re the only generation that’s ‘woke.’ We need to awaken,” Strickland said. “That’s our faith that I’m willing to die for.”

When asked why not go into the conference to discuss his issues with the other bishops, Strickland told 11 News: “I’ve done that in the past, but (it) wasn’t too well received, but I was sort of disinvited to continue that,” Strickland said.

In sharp contrast, Robert Hoatson, co-founder of Road to Recovery, who traveled from New Jersey to Baltimore, called on everyone to pay attention to child victims of clergy sex abuse.

“I’m a former religious brother of 23 years, priest of 14 years,” Hoatson said.

He said the church has a responsibility to victims of clergy sexual abuse.

“As long as we have politicians, as I call them, the bishops, we’re not going to get anywhere, and it’s corrupt to the core, and it goes right to the Vatican,” Hoatson said.

He called on the Boston church to open its files connected to a parochial high school in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He blasted the Archdiocese of Baltimore for its bankruptcy filing and the Archdiocese of Washington for a new effort to have Maryland’s landmark Child Victims Act declared unconstitutional.

“It’s one big hypocrisy,” Hoatson said.

WBAL-TV 11 News reached out to bishops from Washington, D.C., and Texas for comment.

The Archdiocese of Washington sent a statement to 11 News late Wednesday afternoon, saying: “The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is asserting its legal defenses in the cases filed against it. We remain committed, however, to our longstanding efforts to bring healing to survivors through pastoral care and other forms of assistance that are available apart from the legal process. We are also committed to maintaining our robust safe environment policies that have been in place for decades to ensure the protection of all those who are entrusted to our care.”

This report will be updated upon receipt of a response from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.