A Response from PFJ
Dear Bishop Dewane,
This occasion is taken to express our heartfelt greetings and our sincere prayers that Our Merciful Lord will one day be merciful to you, in spite of what you have done to Fr. Christopher Senk, a good priest of 43 years, and to the good people of St. Isabel Parish, who deserved such a better shepherd than you.
We are surely pleased, although somewhat skeptical, that you “are genuinely inspired by the story of the Good Samaritan,” which preaches not so much a “golden rule” (“do unto others as you would have them do to you”), but highlights an overwhelming love and compassion that is like that of God. The Good Samaritan expected no recompense, and no worldly rules demanded that he be so generous as to go to cover the expenses of the stranger, taking him to an inn and paying for whatever costs he might incur. Nor is there any sense in the parable that the Samaritan cared, or even thought of the possibility, that the man beaten by robbers would have the opportunity to “do unto him” as he did to the victim. The parable encourages an overwhelming love and compassion that is like that of God for all those who profess to follow in the Lord’s footsteps.
As chief Shepherd of the Diocese of Venice, your connection to “Fr. Senk” as one of your priests should have been most special, and should have taken such a priority over the compassion due his accusers that it would have made you pause before being so quick to believe their accusations. This, of course, did not happen. Was it because you had talked to them more in the two years of investigation preceding October 28, 2016, than you have ever talked with Fr. Senk? Indeed, have you ever sat down with Fr. Senk and talked with him with the intention of getting at the truth of his situation? Everyone knows that the answer to that question is no. It would have been hardly “regrettable” had your compassion for Fr. Senk been strong enough to challenge the false accusations “of the Catholic faithful” from Baltimore, whose entire case against Fr. Senk was based on lies and jealousy. After all, Bishop, the stolen rings from the hospital, were never stolen by Fr. Senk, and there really was never any evidence that Fr. Senk coerced the fine lady from Baltimore in any way whatsoever. Indeed, her generosity as a person of means was like that of God in the Good Samaritan story, overwhelming and unexplainable. Had the strangers from Baltimore been listened to less, and the parishioners from St. Isabel who knew Fr. Senk for fifteen years been listened to more, then we suspect we would not find ourselves in the situation we find ourselves.
Your letter to the parishioners of St. Isabel parish of March 19, 2019, is fooling no one but yourself. How did the “Apostolic See” determine that Fr. Senk “needed to have certain measures applied to him because of his actions”? Could you honestly tell us that you had nothing to do with the Apostolic See’s determinations? We are aware that you never shared with Fr. Senk and his canon lawyer the contents of your petition to Rome. Is it possible that your doing so was to keep them from challenging anything you might have said? We are aware that often in the past 34 months there have been things that you accused Fr. Senk of that were blatantly false. Was any of that information used to convince the Apostolic See that Fr. Senk needed punishment? Come now bishop, do you think that is what a Good Samaritan would do? The Apostolic See does not know Fr. Senk, and, sadly, all they have to go on is your “unbiased” opinion of him. We do not believe the opinion of the Apostolic See is “merciful” in any way whatsoever, for neither of you appear to have any sense of how much Fr. Senk has already suffered for 34 months. The well-publicized indiscretions of the substitute priest and office manager, has only given the media another opportunity to drag Fr. Senk’s name through the mud, something you may not be unhappy about, but something we are aware has caused him great pain.
The real point, Bishop, is that no one was harmed except Fr. Senk. The greedy people from Baltimore were not laying on the road, Fr. Senk was laying on the road after having been beaten up by your friends from Baltimore and by your unjust system, and you, Bishop Dewane, walked by and did nothing – you never reached out to Fr. Senk, you never took the time to do a proper investigation which would have included talking to Fr. Senk, you never took the time to talk to the people who knew him best, the parishioners of St. Isabel, you never had the courage to face the issue locally, and when Rome would not give you what you wanted, instead of exercising compassion, you schemed and connived to get Rome to punish him which will effectively end his practice of the priesthood. You have never shown any empathy to Fr. Senk that we are aware of, and no one believes that your actions of writing to the Congregation for Clergy was done to show “empathy.” It was the act of a desperate bishop who is intent on punishment and retribution, and it had nothing to do with mercy or compassion. You are only trying to fool yourself if you think that anything you have done to Fr. Senk or the parish is a proper response to the gospel. What you have done, Bishop Dewane, has nothing to do with common decency, let alone any connection with any teaching of Jesus.
Please be assured of our prayers for you Bishop Dewane. We sincerely hope, like a seasonal Christmas movie, that you might have a conversion that will truly give you the opportunity to act like the Good Samaritan.