IT’S ALL YOU BISHOP DEWANE, AND NO AMOUNT OF DISSEMBLING BY YOU CAN CHANGE THAT
Recently, a letter received from Bishop Frank J. Dewane was shared with PFJ by a longtime parishioner. In the letter dated January 27th, 2020, Bishop Dewane states that “with regards to your email communication of December 14, 2019, allow me to note that I am aware that the Parish employed security guards. Security was necessary due to the unfortunate situation at St. Isabel Parish regarding the removal of furniture by Father Senk. I will make no further comment.”
There is much about this statement which is interesting. The email communication referred to by Bishop Dewane was written on February 1, 2020, which raises the question of how his letter is dated January 27, 2020. Irregardless, it might be asked, why nearly two months after Fr. Christopher’s “infamous” move, a parish which is surely still suffering financial challenges due to the enormous decrease of contributing parishioners, is spending their available funds on the hiring of security guards. One can only assume that, when asked about the unclear need for security guards, the parish staff answer with the same false narrative as that proposed by the head of the Diocese. A previous post on this web site explained in detail what really happened on the day of Fr. Christopher’s move, which barely involved any furniture and was neither threatening or disruptive. That post also spoke of what appears to have been a trap set by the Diocese and staff that was predestined to end with the ejection of Fr. Christopher from the property, no matter how Fr. Christopher behaved. With Fr. Christopher’s official removal as pastor being submitted to Rome, his unwitnessed visit, and these false claims of what transpired, were no doubt planned so they could be documented and used against Fr. Christopher as “evidence.” Without Fr. Christopher’s forcible removal from Church property what would be used by Bishop Dewane to further demonize Fr. Christopher?
Even more disturbing than the above, is the blatant lying by the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice. His letter of January 27 (supposedly) mimics the favorite party line used in a December 23, 2019, letter to another parishioner. In that letter, regarding Fr. Christopher’s move, Bishop Dewane states that “regrettably what ought to have been a simple affair, was blown out of proportion and used as an opportunity for Fr. Senk to foment animosity against the Diocese and parish staff. Days before the move a parishioner who supports Father Senk approached the Sanibel Police department and warned of trouble when Fr. Senk came to oversee the moving of his belongings. Therefore, prudence demanded the parish hire private security to address any disturbance. On the day of the move Father Senk proceeded to create such an uproar that security officers felt the need to call upon the police to intervene. lt was police who decided – after three separate warnings [really two!] – that Father Senk had to be removed from the situation to protect the safety of all and restore enough calm so as to allow movers to complete their work.” One might excuse the Bishop as ill-informed in his most recent letter, if it were not for the correctives shared with the Bishop by a parishioner and by this web site, which we know the Bishop’s handlers read. In letters of December 22, 2019, and January 14, 2020, the Bishop’s alternate view of reality was corrected, and he was informed of the many mistaken assumptions he had made. Further, in our post “ANOTHER CHANCE TO SHAME,” a fully accurate and detailed account was given of the days of Fr. Christopher’s move, a post that surely did not go unnoticed by Bishop Dewane and his minions. Bishop Dewane’s efforts to continue to repeat what is categorically untrue is shameful for anyone, but particularly shameful for one who holds the position of Bishop in the Diocese. For three years the Bishop has lied about Fr. Christopher. And about members of St. Isabel parish. Old habits are hard to break.
This brings us to our last point: the pathological destruction of Fr. Christopher’s good name. Bishop Dewane ends his letter to the parishioner dated December 23, 2019, with the following: “So much of what has been disagreeable over the course of this case is directly attributable to the “Parishioners for Justice” and Fr. Senk himself. Thus, many of these regrettable incidents you recount in your letter could have been avoided if maturity and charity would have guided Father Senk’s actions. However, the circumstances were out of the control of the Diocese or me as Ordinary. No amount of hostile rhetoric that may be used will change this basic truth.”
We would love to know what “might have been avoided if maturity and charity would have guided Father Senk’s actions”? From where we sit, Fr. Christopher has not only acted maturely in standing up to the disgraceful injustice that Bishop Dewane, and only Bishop Dewane, is responsible for, and he has also been far more charitable than the Bishop could ever hope to be. Perhaps some of that could be attributed to the Bishop’s demand for silence at the beginning of this three-year ordeal, since we are confident that there is much that Fr. Christopher has wanted to say, but restraint kept him from saying them. Fr. Christopher has not only restrained from disgraceful behavior, he has consistently told the truth and only the truth. This cannot be said of Bishop Dewane.
It would appear that no amount of truth-telling could provoke Bishop Dewane into recognizing that the absolute mess he has made of Fr. Christopher’s life, and the absolute mess that is St. Isabel parish, is all his doing. Had the Bishop acted maturely and charitably at the outset he might have taken the time to speak with Fr. Christopher to discern whether the salacious things said by the Knott family were true. Had the Bishop acted in the way that Jesus might have acted, the Bishop might not have, from day one, sought the surrender of Fr. Christopher’s priesthood. From the earliest days of this nightmare in 2016, Bishop Dewane should have taken the time to meet with the parishioners who actually came to know Fr. Christopher, because he shared not only his time with them but he shared himself with them. Had the Bishop not been so busy and focused on cowardly having Fr. Christopher’s priesthood taken away by Rome, the Bishop, and his equally horrible canon lawyer Fr. Joseph Waters, might have spent less time making up false accusations against Fr. Christopher. When parishioners pleaded with the Bishop to retract the case sent to Rome, he lied to them, telling them he was unable to do that. Seeking any kind of fair solution was never his intent. Over these past years, the Bishop has answered complaints with lies that “there were other things he knew” which made his behavior fair, and, with the help of parish staff, the Bishop has oppressed the very people who rebuilt the Church, calling them “crazies” and delusional. No Bishop Dewane, was wrong to state that “the circumstances were out of the control of the Diocese or me as Ordinary.” The Bishop has always been in complete control, and to blame Fr. Christopher, to blame PFJ or the former Woman’s Guild, or even to blame Rome as though they were not following his instructions, is thoroughly shameful.
Bishop Dewane ended his letter with the niceties we have come to expect from him, niceties with no demonstrable evidence: “Please know that the spiritual welfare of the faithful of St. lsabel and providing for their pastoral needs are of utmost importance to me and the Diocese of Venice. Perhaps in the heightened emotions of the last number of years, this focus has been too often overlooked. The sooner all involved return to these Gospel priorities and the devout worship of Our Lord and Savior, the sooner peace will return to the Parish and healing can take place.” Indeed, if those in charge of all that has happened, the Diocese, returned to the Gospel priorities preached by our loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, none of this would have happened, and it surely would not continue. Bishop Dewane, while not wanting to admit it, is the one who is responsible for this entire upset. It all rests on his shoulders.