A LABOR DAY STATEMENT FROM PARISHIONERS FOR JUSTICE
As head of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Frank Dewane has issued an annual Labor Day statement. The statement, “Just Wages and Human Flourishing,” dated Labor Day, September 3 this year, was released on August 30. It is heavily dependent on the teachings of Popes/Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, and of course borrows from the teachings of our current Pope Francis.
The Labor Day statement says all the things you would expect it to say, unless, of course, you are a member of Parishioners for Justice. Indeed, members of PFJ see a very definite disconnect in a bishop appearing to be an authority on matters of justice while being the cause of such great injustice to Fr. Christopher and the parishioners of St. Isabel Church. The personal integrity demanded of a person who makes public statements about justice is great, and when that integrity is not present, the words of the statement sound hollow.
For example, in his Labor Day message for the USCCB, Frank Dewane states: “Pope Francis calls us to see our ‘life as a mission,’ and to ‘ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every movement of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received’.” Really, Bishop Dewane? In all of the reckless and malicious decisions made by Bishop Dewane concerning Fr. Christopher and St. Isabel Church, did he actually allow the Spirit to guide him? What an insult to God’s Spirit to suggest that the Spirit had anything to do with the pain and suffering inflicted on Fr. Christopher and St. Isabel Parish. When he made decisions that would humiliate and malign Fr. Christopher’s good name and reputation, armed with nothing more than the arguably false accusations of a greedy but powerful family, was the Spirit guiding that decision? The innate goodness and mercy of a loving God answers that question with a resounding “NO!” When Bishop Dewane rebuffed the attempts of concerned parishioners to settle this disaster amicably with no further harm to the Church’s reputation, was the Spirit present? Again, the answer is “NO!”
Bishop Dewane rightly suggested that for change to happen “personal conversion” is required. How are Christians to respond to the injustices in today’s world? “We are called to live justly in our own lives,” to use Dewane’s words. “We should all work to reform and build a more just society,” and this needs to be modeled for us by our chief Shepherd. Bishop Dewane is the cause of the injustice that is presently destroying the lives of so many of his flock here in the Diocese of Venice. Will the Bishop allow the Spirit to enter into his life that He might reveal the terrible wrong that he has done to so many? Bishop Dewane ends his statement with the desire of all when he states: “this Labor Day, let us commit ourselves to personal conversion of heart and mind.” As Christians seeking justice, we pray for such a conversion. On this Labor Day, may Bishop Dewane allow the Spirit of God to guide him, bringing an end to the pain and suffering of Fr. Christopher Senk and the parishioners of St. Isabel Parish.