April 10, 2019
Bishop Frank Dewane
Diocese of Venice in Florida
1000 Pinebrook Road
Venice, FL. 34285
Dear Bishop Dewane,
It is difficult for us, the twin brother and the sister of Fr. Christopher Senk, to make the effort to write to you, since we are fairly certain that you never bother to read anything that is not sent with the expressed purpose of praising you, although we cannot imagine you receiving many such letters. Your recent public letter to the parishioners of St. Isabel, maliciously posted on the parish web site for all to read, is despicable by any standard, even the low standards set by you in your previous communications. It is inconceivable to us that your desire to damage Fr. Christopher’s reputation is so great that it causes you to lie and distort the truth with reckless abandon. Clearly there is no Code of Conduct for a Bishop that would prevent you from that sinful behavior.
If what you say is true, and we do not believe it to be true, Pope Francis personally recently afflicted our brother with unreasonable demands, with full knowledge of all the details of his case, even after more than thirty months of already suffering at your hands. You would have us believe that Pope Francis, a person whose name is synonymous with mercy, desires that our brother, who has barely survived the upset and trauma of the last 30 months, desires that Fr. Christopher continue to suffer under your care for what could be another ten years or more. We cannot possibly imagine, no matter what you might say, that Pope Francis would personally impose any of the penalties so gloatingly listed in your letter of March, 29, and we hope that the parishioners of St. Isabel and guests are sophisticated enough to see through your evil intentions. Sadly, the Pope has never had the opportunity to know Fr. Christopher. Had he had that opportunity, we have no doubt that he would have viewed his 43 years as a priest as an enormous blessing to the Church. There is nowhere that our brother has served where he did not touch the hearts and strengthen the faith of all those to whom he ministered. You, Bishop Dewane, had the opportunity to know Fr. Christopher, but sadly you never made the effort or took the opportunity to get to know him. Had you made that effort, you would know that he was never guilty of all the things you have accused him of doing, and you would understand why hundreds and hundreds of people all across the country are willing to stand by him and support him.
When this ordeal started in the fall of 2016, your desire to do our brother harm was obvious, when, without any investigation of your own, you decreed he was guilty and sought his voluntary resignation from the priesthood. Our brother then, as he has for the last thirty months, boldly refused your repeated requests for his priesthood, and by the beginning of 2017, knowing that he would never voluntarily request dismissal from the priesthood, you cowardly decided to send his case to Rome, where you hoped to persuade the powers-that-be, total strangers, to strip him of his priesthood. You made your case in the manner you know to be best, which is to lie and distort the truth, doing everything you could to persuade the judges in Rome that our brother is a horrible priest. In spite of your lies and falsehoods, you were unable to persuade Rome that he deserved the ultimate punishment for a priest, and so by June of 2017, in consultation no doubt with the very Congregation entrusted with his judgment, you devised a plan that, in your eyes, would effectively see that our brother would never exercise his priesthood as long as you were bishop. What kind of a human being are you? How do you sleep nights knowing that you are the architect of such a devious plan? You are not only unworthy of the title of Bishop, you should never have been ordained a priest, which placed you in the position of doing so much harm to so many. If the “highest standard of prudence and moral behavior” is expected of all those who serve the Church, I can only hope that we will live long enough to see you, and bishops like you who abuse the power entrusted to them, removed from office.
Your false “pastoral concern” for anyone other than yourself is so blatantly obvious. We have come to know the parishioners of St. Isabel well over the past fifteen years, and we recognize them as kind, honest, generous, and loving, everything you are not. With our brother they have suffered more than you will ever acknowledge, for they have had to watch their pastor and friend be falsely accused, and now have those accusations upheld by the Church they had hoped would be truly interested in justice. For thirty months they have had to witness the dismantling, with your support, of all that was good about St. Isabel parish. They are not confused by your feigned profession of pastoral concern. Other members of the parish with whom we used to be friends appear to have decided to cooperate with your evil intent, and that causes us, and our brother, to be filled with a great sadness. Your treating our brother like a criminal, your refusal to allow him to do the funeral Masses of parishioners and some we numbered as friends, and your desire now to prevent him from performing the wedding of his niece, is unconscionable. And so we ask once again, how can you live with yourself?
Your careless disregard for our brother’s reputation has been obvious from day one, and yet you are not required to do what common decency demands – restore the reputation you worked so hard to ruin. Your letter of March 29 to the Parish might not have been your last opportunity to further ruin our brother’s reputation, but it was surely your boldest effort. You weaponized the merciful name of Pope Francis by falsely making him a knowing partner in this travesty of justice, making him an accomplice in the destruction of our brother’s reputation. Nothing you say will ever make us believe that Pope Francis wanted that.
Lastly, as pained as we are by all that has transpired over the last thirty months, and all that will unfold in the months to come, we are delighted that it has provided the opportunity for hundreds and hundreds of people to express their appreciation for all that our brother has done for them. We sadly acknowledge the horrible pain this has caused our brother, and we know that the love and support of innumerable parishioners and friends has kept him from sinking further into the depths of depression. It is with confidence, Bishop Dewane, that we state that you will never know what it is like to feel the affection and support of hundreds of people, for most people have the wisdom to clearly recognize that what you are doing is the work of the devil. You will never, in the time allotted you, be able to do the good our brother has done in the last 43 years of his priesthood. We are unable to pretend to “wish you well,” for in our heart of hearts we hope that you will one day get what you truly deserve, and that is the punishment reserved for those who are truly sinful.
Lynn and Natalie Senk & family Cheryl and Tim Munger and family
4813 Cape Colony Drive 69 River Street
Amarillo, TX 79119-4977 Dunstable, MA. 01827
Proud Brother of Fr. Christopher Proud Sister of Fr. Christopher
CC: His Eminence Beniamino Cardinal Stella
Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy
His Excellency Christophe Pierre
Apostolic Nuncio to the United Sates