Bill to End Limitations in Sex Abuse Suits Dies

DENVER — A Colorado bill that would have lifted the statute of limitations on lawsuits in cases of sexual abuse was left to die May 10, a move praised by the state’s Catholic Conference.

On the final day of the session, the state Senate chose not to take up House Bill 1090, which would have given sex-abuse victims unlimited time to file lawsuits against the Church. The bill specifically exwmpted public institutions that have a much greater rate of sexual abuse. Under current state law, people who say they have been sexually abused have until age 24 to file a lawsuit.

The measure and similar legislative movements had been criticized by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. He argued that it is questionable if singling out the Church and other private institutions for “retroactive liability” really serves justice.

Writing in the May edition of First Things magazine, Archbishop Chaput stated: “Communities of faith have an obligation to generously help people who have been hurt by their members, past or present. But they also have a right to maintain their mission of serving others and to be protected from predatory judgments designed to gut their resources and identity.”


Souper Bowl Raises $4.7 Million for the Hungry

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Youth organizations in more than 1,100 Catholic congregations raised nearly $1 million for local charities through the 2006 Souper Bowl of Caring.

The Catholic groups were among some 11,500 youth organizations that collected a record $4.7 million for the hungry across the country this year. The event, held annually on Super Bowl Sunday in January or February, began with a prayer in a single South Carolina church in 1990 and has raised nearly $33 million for hungry people since then.

Young people participate by collecting donations in large soup pots outside churches or at other locations. They donate that money to local charities; no funds go to the national Souper Bowl organization, based in Columbia.


Ohio Priest Sentenced to Life for Murder

TOLEDO, Ohio — Father Gerald Robinson, 68, a retired priest of the Diocese of Toledo, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison May 11 for the murder more than 26 years earlier of Mercy Sister Margaret Ann Pahl.

He could be eligible for parole in 15 years. The jury deliberated for six hours and 25 minutes before handing down the verdict. Sister Margaret Ann, 71, was strangled and then stabbed 31 times in the chapel at the now-closed Toledo Mercy Hospital, where she and Father Robinson both worked at the time.

“This is a sad day for the Diocese of Toledo,” Bishop Leonard Blair said in a statement. He called for prayers for Sister Margaret Ann, her family and the Sisters of Mercy; the judge, jury, attorneys and witnesses in the trial; and Father Robinson.

“Let us hope that the conclusion of the trial will bring some measure of healing for all those affected by the case as well as for our local church,” the bishop added. “The diocese has remained steadfast in the work of the Church and its ministries throughout this trial, and will continue to do so.”


Diocese Keeps Nursing Homes Open and Catholic

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A partnership between the Diocese of Bridgeport and a major health care corporation will allow three diocesan nursing homes to remain open and expand while retaining their Catholic identity and mission.

Under the agreement, announced May 1, Harborside Healthcare will assume responsibility for the operation and management of St. Joseph’s Manor in Trumbull, Pope John Paul II Center for Health Care in Danbury and St. Camillus Health Center in Stamford, while the diocese will remain responsible for all aspects of spiritual and pastoral care.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport said the three homes employ 900 people and have a total of 562 beds. Pastoral services that will continue include daily Mass, Catholic chaplains and adherence to the ethical and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.