John Wojnowski, 67, claims to have been molested in 1958 (at age 15) by an Italian priest:
At age 15, while on summer holiday with his brothers in the Piedmont village of Cuzzago, Wojnowski says, a “priest offered to help me with Latin and called me into the rectory. He started touching my knee and my crotch and told me to masturbate in front of him. I ran away. That is all I remember. But I was totally crushed. I thought I ruined my life forever. After that my personality changed. My appearance changed. I became depressed and withdrawn. I did not know why.
He claims to have repressed the memory until a 1997 televised report of a suicide by another priestlyabuse victim. The next year, Wojnowski would begin a twelve-year, one-man picket of the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican’s embassy in Washington, DC, asking for a proper apology and “reparations.”
Archbishop Pietro Sambi has been the ambassador for the Holy See for the last five years. Wojnowski said Sambi has acknowledged him, but only with hostility. Annie Groer of Politics Daily reports:
When he does address him, Wojnowski says, Sambi’s words are crude, devoid of compassion and politesse. He nearly always speaks in Italian, a language Wojnowski learned when his Polish family settled in Milan after World War II.
…Wojnowski tells me that at least 15 times in the past 20 months, Sambi has insulted him in language most undiplomatic, uttered during the Nuncio’s regular strolls along Massachusetts Avenue. Wojnowski immediately writes each one in a datebook.
“You’re an idiot, a paid idiot,” was among the first entries, on Aug. 16, 2008.
“Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. You are a fetid pervert,” was the Oct. 21, 2008 insult.
“You’re a total loser,” came on March 19.
The article contains a complete list of alleged insults Wojnowski has catalogued:
You are a loser. You are a loser with a camera. You are a total loser.” (Sei un fallito. Sei un fallito come fotografo. Sei un fallito totale) March 19, 2010
“I do not speak with crazies” (No parlo con i pazzi, in response to Wojnowski’s request in Italian for a brief chat with the Nuncio) May 3, 2009
“Imbecile. Cretin. I am ashamed of you, a gift to the enemies of the Church.” (Deficiente cretino per mi vergogno di te, un dono hai nemici de la chiessa) March 21, 2009
“Cretin” (Cretino) Feb. 18, 2009
“Tool. Paid idiot.” (Strumentallizzato. Idiota pagato.) Jan. 19, 2009
“Idiot” (Idiota) Jan. 10, 2009
“I am ashamed of you. You are a pig” (Mi vergogno di te. Sei un porco, Sambi’s answer to Wojnowski’s question: Excellency, are you ashamed to dress as a priest?) Dec. 28, 2008
“Imbecile. Cretin.” (Imbecille. Cretino) Dec. 21, 2008
“Moron” (Deficiente). Nov. 20, 2008
“Perfect Moron” (Perfetto Deficiente) Nov. 1, 2008
“Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. You are a stinking pervert.” (Schemo. Schemo. Schemo. Schemo. Sei un pervertito fetente.) Oct. 21, 2008
“Crazy. Crazy. Moron,” (Pazzo. Pazzo. Deficiente). Oct. 15, 2008
“I am not for sale, like you are” (Spoken in English) Sept. 5, 2008
“Paid Imbecile.” (Pagato imbecile) Aug. 31, 2008
“You are paid. You have no dignity” (Ti hanno pagato. No hai dignita) Aug. 17, 2008
“So there, idiot. A paid idiot (Ecco Idiota, un idiota pagato) Aug. 16, 2008
Groer claims the embassy refuses to comment:
Despite my four detailed requests for comment — two faxes, an e-mail and a hand-delivered letter to the Nunciature — Sambi has chosen to remain silent. I wanted to ask him why a career diplomat — who served in the world’s most populous Muslim country (Indonesia) and had dealings with warring Palestinians and Israelis in the Holy Land — allegedly slurred a lone, unarmed individual. I also wanted ask if he thought it appropriate to call an alleged victim of clergy sexual abuse a “pervert.” I still welcome the chance to have that conversation. Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the diocese, said the church investigated Wojnowski’s complaint and found that the accused priest was dead. Wojnowski has been offered counseling and other assistance, she said, but has declined. “The Nuncio (Sambi) is a very kind person, a good person and priest,” Gibbs said.
Wojnowski’s continued presence — his sign pole has worn a discernable groove in the sidewalk — clearly rankles the archbishop and the church hierarchy. In 2008, the police moved him and his banner a block away when Pope Benedict stayed at the Nunciature during his Washington visit.
Ultimately, it’s Wojnowski’s word against Sampi’s. But the unbelievable cruelty displayed by senior magesterial clerics in their disregard for abuse victims makes Wojnowski all the more believable.