National Catholic Reporter
by Tom Roberts | Jun. 16, 2014
A group of 10 priests in the diocese of Venice, Fla., describing what they said had become an “intolerable” situation, took the highly unusual step earlier this year of composing a letter severely critical of their bishop, Frank Dewane, and sending it to the pope’s representative in the United States.
The letter, addressed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio, accuses Dewane of ignoring or violating canon law, abandoning consultative processes and ruling by “intimidation, the use of fear, shaming, bullying and other non-Christian behaviors.”
The letter, dated Jan. 17, was first reported by TV station NBC2 in Fort Myers, Fla. NCR has since spoken to two of the signatories, who confirmed the authenticity of the letter and that 10 priests signed it. They spoke only on condition that their identities not be revealed, nor would they permit specific examples of Dewane’s behavior to be reported, because they said those would allow the priests to be identified.
While initial reports said that the signers included some pastors as well as other priests, one of the priests and another layperson familiar with the development of the letter told NCR that all 10 signers are either pastors or administrators and together represent significant years of experience.
Dewane, in a half-hour phone interview with NCR, disputed the charges, calling them “malicious” and “unfounded.” He said he had not been informed of the identity of the signers, who asked the nuncio for confidentiality. Dewane said he first heard of the complaints when the letter was reported by NBC2. He said the only correspondence he has received from the nuncio was a copy of the letter, without the names, following the initial news report about it.