On June 20, 2018, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was suspended from active ministry, 47 years after he abused a young man, years after rampant rumors about other indiscretions of his, and only after careful, exhaustive, impartial investigation. Some media reports of this suspension were accompanied by a picture of Frank Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, standing with Cardinal McCarrick, his brother bishop.
Also on June 20, Bishop Dewane issued the included “Actual Letter from Bishop Frank Dewane.” Bishop Dewane cannot be faulted for expressing dismay at the problem of children and parents being separated. This is a situation that requires compassion, attention, and creative and timely resolution. Unfortunately, Bishop Dewane offers little insight on this issue or his response. He asks people to pray. He asks people to urge lawmakers to act. For himself, he will again “stand with my brother Bishops.” Will he be standing as he did with Cardinal McCarrick, standing for a photo op?
In the meantime, in his own diocese, a situation rages that requires action. This is a situation that he controls. It does not afford any photo ops, but it does demand action for the good of the Church and his diocese. This situation is Bishop Dewane’s consigning Fr. Christopher Senk to administrative leave after civil investigation showed there was no cause and prior to conducting even cursory investigation on his part. Rather than standing around with his brother bishops telling people what to do, he could take action himself.
We can imagine a timely letter from Bishop Dewane that might have been issued on the occasion of Cardinal McCarrick’s suspension. Such an “Imagined Letter from Bishop Frank Dewane” is fantasized below. We can also imagine that Bishop Dewane will act as a shepherd would, not as merely a man who smiles in his red robes that he enjoys wearing as he stands with his brother Bishops. We imagine, and we pray with hope.