Group makes “last ditch” effort
They oppose “honors” at priest's funeral
And they want two other honors for another cleric rescinded
Catholic official is name is on street & youth athletic complex
But he interrupted a police murder investigation, two cops say
Holding signs and childhood photos, clergy sex abuse victims will;
-- make a final plea to Toledo Catholic officials to change burial plans for a murderer/priest,
-- beg them to «aggressively seek out» anyone he may have molested and
-- help them try to get other honors for another wrongdoer priest rescinded.
Friday, July 11 at 9:15 a.m.
Outside the Toledo Catholic diocese HQ, 1933 Spielbusch Ave. in Toledo
Two-three members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including one who is a long-time leader in the organization
For days now, Catholic officials have insisted that they will give a funeral with “fully priestly honors” to Fr. Gerard Robinson, a convicted murderer and accused child molester.
And regardless of how the funeral is done, SNAP is urging local priests help get an athletic complex and street re-name. Both honor a once-powerful but now deceased cleric, Monsignor Jerome Schmit.
Two police officers have testified under oath that Schmit interrupted a 1980 police interrogation of Fr. Robinson for murder case, enabling Robinson to walk free, and perhaps hurt others, for decades.
Fr. Robinson was convicted of murdering Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl.
All three honors, SNAP says, rub salt into the wounds of crime victims, and discourage those victims from speaking up, exposing criminals, protecting others and healing themselves.
Fr. Charles Ritter is the “administrator” or temporary head of the Toledo diocese, which is without a bishop at this time. In a letter sent to Ritter SNAP and NSAC (the National Survivors Advocate Coalition) say the burial plan is “putting the wishes of a murdering priests relatives above the feelings of crime victims.”
A third group, the Voice of the Faithful, has also written Ritter expressing disapproval, as has Lee Pahl, the nephew of the murdered nun.
“The feelings of many crime victims should trump the feelings of a murderer's clerical colleagues,” Kristine Ward of Dayton, head of NSAC.
“By their silence, dozens of Toledo priests, nuns and Catholic employers are basically endorsing Ritter's stunningly insensitive decision,” said Claudia Vercellotti, SNAP's Toledo director. “It's just rubbing more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl's family and the wounds of every person who has ever suffered a violent assault.”
“Catholic officials claim they're changing how they deal with clergy criminals,” said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP’s president. “But this burial shows that the self-protective clerical culture in the church is alive and well, and takes priority over the needs and well-being of the flock, even when the offender is a proven murderer and an accused child molester.”
Diocesan officials say that the funeral, set for 10:00 a.m. Friday, will follow “the usual protocol for a diocesan priest's funeral."
In a new Catholic newspaper article, Fr. Ritter said “the funeral Mass is not about honoring anyone.” But last Saturday, he told the Blade that Fr. Robinson would be buried with full priestly honors.
That same Catholic newspaper article says “A priest's stole and a crucifix will also be placed upon the casket,” and “the rest of the liturgy will include the traditional prayers prescribed by the church, with the inclusion of some prayers for a deceased priest and references to his service to the people. All vested priests in attendance will file out before the casket singing two Latin hymns that are traditionally sung at priest funerals.”
"We are providing the burial rites of the church as they are prescribed." said Msgr. Charles Singler, the diocesan worship director.