OH- Two groups oppose honors for murderer priest

For immediate release: Monday, July 7, 2014

For more information: Claudia Vercellotti of Toledo 419 345 9291, [email protected], Kristine Ward of Dayton 937 272 0308, Barbara Blaine (a Toledo native) 312-399-4747, [email protected], David Clohessy 314 566 9790 cell, [email protected]

Groups seek burial change for murderer

They oppose giving him full priest honors

Catholic cleric was also an alleged child molester

In sharply worded letter, advocates blast “callous move”

Two organizations are writing Toledo’s top Catholic official urging him to reverse his decision to let a convicted murderer and accused molester be buried with full honors as “a priest in good standing.”

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and NSAC, the National Survivors Advocate Coalition, are asking Father Charles Ritter to hold a small, private funeral for Fr. Gerald Robinson, not provide him with the normal privileges of burial afforded to priests and explain why to their flock and the public.

Robinson was convicted of murdering Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl.

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 today by fax and email, SNAP and NSAC say the burial plan is “putting the wishes of a murdering priests relatives above the feelings of crime victims.” 

“This should be a no-brainer,” Kristine Ward of Dayton, NSAC's director. “The feeling of many crime victims should trump the feelings of a murderer's clerical colleagues and relatives.” 

“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.” 

A copy of their letter, sent by email, is here:

July 6, 2014

Dear Fr. Ritter: 

You have acknowledged that a priest who murdered a nun - by repeatedly and brutally stabbing her – will soon be buried with full honors. For the healing of murder victims' families, child sex abuse victims and Catholics, we beg you to reverse this callous decision.

Whether Fr. Gerald Robinson died “a priest in good standing” is less important. Whether honoring him now will deepen the pain of those already suffering is more important.

By doing this, you are putting the wishes of a murdering priest’s relatives above the feelings of crime victims. As you and your clerical colleagues have done for decades, you are selfishly siding with a guilty fellow cleric while causing more pain to innocent victims.

Imagine how this makes hundreds of Toledo families whose loved ones have been murdered feel? Surely many Toledo Catholics see this move as cold-hearted.

You're a well-educated man. You realize that you can forgive a sinner and criminal without cruelly letting his funeral rub more salt into already deep wounds of crime victims.

We hope Fr. Robinson's passing brings some comfort to those he hurt and their loved ones. But any such comfort will be short lived as those struggling families learn that Fr. Robinson is being buried with full honors.

It's tragic for virtually everyone involved that top Catholic officials callously let a convicted murder go to his grave as a priest in good standing. Please do not compound the hurt that this has caused and is causing by letting Fr. Robinson be buried with full honors.

Claudia Vercellotti (of Toledo) 419 345 9291, [email protected]
Kristine Ward (of Dayton) 937 272 0308
Barbara Blaine (a Toledo native) 312 399 4747, [email protected]
David Clohessy 314 566 9790 cell, [email protected]

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