Bishop Joseph Strickland speaks about the prevention measures in place at the Diocese of Tyler to stop sexual abuse of minors. according to information released Thursday Jan. 31, 2019. Three priests who have served in the Diocese of Tyler in its 32-year-history are on the list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, according to information released Thursday Jan. 31, 2019. The named priests were Gustavo de Jesus Cuello, Michael Barone and Monsignor John Flynn. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

The leader of the Diocese of Tyler is drawing national attention after signing what has been described as a manifesto promoted by conservative Catholics that alleges COVID-19 is a pretext for creating a “world government.”

National Public Radio reported Friday that the appeal contained the signatures of at least two cardinals and a U.S. bishop, who was identified as Joseph Strickland.

After multiple requests the past two days for comment from Strickland or the Diocese of Tyler, the newspaper received this message: “Thank you for reaching out to Bishop for an interview, but he’s not available for interviews.”

Readers were mixed in their support and opposition of the statement. Some identified as members of the Catholic Church and others were not members.

Shirley McLeod said, “I certainly think left/socialist leaning politicians are seizing upon this opportunity to further their agenda to defeat Trump and increase dependence upon government.”

Aaron Scott added, “I’m not Catholic, but I agree that it could possibly be a pretext. I don’t see anything wrong with him expressing what he believes. Our Protestant leaders make their opinions heard, does he not have the same right?”

Two readers felt the statement was being too political and said he has too much power to sign something outlandish. Felicity Enas asked, “Do these people believe that we are incapable of resisting? Or are they just following their religion controlling doctrine to keep the believers in line?”

The Tyler diocese covers a 33-county region of Northeast Texas.

The document is titled “Appeal for the Church and the world to Catholics and all people of good will” and was authored by Archbishop Carlo Viganò, who NPR identified as a former aspostolic nuncio to the United States. An apostolic nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomat, which serves as an envoy or permanent diplomat of the Catholic Church.

The document asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic is being used as a pretext to violate the “inalienable rights of citizens” and says that “public health must not, and cannot, become an alibi for infringing on the rights of millions of people around the world, let alone for depriving the civil authority of its duty to act wisely for the common good.”

Viganò alleges that official data is being used to create panic for the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction and control.

“The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control.”

The document also asserts that effective or inexpensive remedies are being penalized in order to promote “shady business interests” in the form of vaccines. Viganò goes on to say it is morally unacceptable for Catholics to develop or use vaccines derived from materials from aborted fetuses.

Viganò writes that the faithful are called to make a stand: either with Christ of against Christ.

“Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be erased under the pretext of a virus, and an odious technological tyranny to be established, in which nameless and faceless people can decide the fate of the world by confining us to a virtual reality.”

The full document can be read at https://veritasliberabitvos.info/appeal/ .

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Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.