Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Most Irrational Of All The Conventions

Over the years, however, sexual abuse in the church burst into public view, along with a decades-long cover-up. And it must have occurred to many of those driving by daily — as it did to me — that the loony old man with the sign on Massachusetts Avenue had in fact been onto something true and profound.

Long before reporters at the Boston Globe and elsewhere exposed the church’s secret crime, Wojnowski had alerted thousands, if not millions, of Washington commuters to something seriously amiss; if a man felt wronged and ruined enough to make this his life’s work, you had to imagine that he wasn’t the only one. That was no small feat of public education, no matter how crudely accomplished.

These days, more passersby wave in admiration for Wojnowski than exhibit disdain. But there’s still plenty of the latter, too.

As we talked at one point, a man walked by, wearing a polo shirt with the Air Force Academy logo. He stopped to study the sign.

“Why do you call them cowards?” he demanded. “Why cowards?”

“They are cowards!” Wojnowski replied good-naturedly. He almost enjoys this kind of thing. “Are you Catholic?”

“I am — proudly!” the man said. “It’s nonsense. And the pope is going to be staying here. You should be respectful.”

Wojnowski said many Catholics had been silently abused.

“Do you know any man who doesn’t commit sin?” his interrogator asked. “And priests too? So what does that have to do with Catholicism?”

Another man, driving past a short time later, lowered his window to tell Wojnowski not to show up in the neighborhood when the pope was there. He said this in a way that suggested it was not the first warning, and it sounded vaguely menacing.

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