Despite his 2006 conviction for a nun’s murder, Gerald Robinson will be given a normal funeral befitting a diocesan priest, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo announced Saturday.
“Whether in the eyes of God, Father Robinson was or was not guilty of the crime, I do not know,” the Rev. Charles Ritter, the diocesan administrator, said in the statement. “I do know that he is the work of God’s hands, as are we all. He was a sinner, as are we all. He was a baptized member of the body of Christ, and he was, and remains an ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church. This is the context in which his funeral will take place.”
The arrangements themselves remain to be made.
The announcement prompted an immediate rebuke from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a Toledo-based group that seeks greater accountability from the Roman Catholic Church for misdeeds by its priesthood.
“Toledo’s Catholic bishop plans to bury a priest who murdered a nun by repeatedly stabbing her with full honors because he died ‘a priest in good standing.’ By doing so, the bishop is putting the wishes of a murdering priest’s relatives above the feelings of crime victims,” Claudia Vercellotti, a SNAP spokesman, wrote in its statement.
“Imagine how this makes hundreds of Toledo families whose loved ones have been murdered feel?” the SNAP statement continued. “Surely thousands of Toledo Catholics see this move as cold-hearted. We hope they’ll express their outrage at their bishop’s self-indulgent callousness.”
The group said it hopes Robinson’s death “brings some comfort to those he hurt” while enabling others “who suspected or saw his crimes and misdeeds will also step forward” to reveal “the full truth.”
A diocesan spokesman did not respond to a message seeking comment about the SNAP statement.
Robinson, 76, died early Friday in Franklin Medical Center, a Columbus hospital run by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, where he had been admitted for heart problems.
He was serving a 15-years-to-life sentence for the 1980 slaying of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, whose choked and stabbed body was found on the floor at the former Mercy Hospital's sacristy the day before Easter that year.
Robinson had been ordained May 30, 1964, and served across the Toledo diocese during his ministry.