City Paper is not for tourists
5:30 p.m., near the Vatican embassy. John Wojnowski, who has been protesting across the street from the Vatican embassy every day since late 1997, early 1998, is up the street a block or so from his usual spot, accompanied by a tall photographer who is smoking a cigar.
John holds his sign—POPE HIDES PEDOPHILES—and begins to tell his life story, which is very sad, and just after the point where hs is 15 years old in a small village in Italy and the priest molests him, a reporter from the Washington Post turns up.
“Where were you today?” the reporter asks John.
“I was here,” he says.
“Why weren’t you here at noon when the Pope came by?” she asks.
“I had no plans to be here,” John says. “I come on my time. I have other things to do. Go to the library.”
The reporter looks flummoxed. “You’re a hero,” she says. “People told me you’re a hero. I’m on deadline. I wrote the story how you weren’t here, now you’re here.”
“My only access to the Internet is at the library. I have my routine,” John says.
“Do you have a cell number?” asks the reporter.
“I do but it’s private,” John says.
The reporter looks even more flummoxed and tries another tack. “What do you think of the pope’s visit?” she asks.
“It’s an opportunity for reporters to see me,” John says.
Other pedestrians walk by holding up their thumbs in support, and John thanks them, then starts to tell his story again, starting from where he is a 20-year-old refugee working as a dishwasher in Canada, and suddenly remembers being abused. Meanwhile, the photographer hands out business cards to the reporters and to John. “I do freelance work,” the photographer says, still smoking his cigar.
A police officer drives by on an ATV on the sidewalk and says, “How you doing John?” and in response John holds up his other sign, which reads: My Life Was Ruined By A Catholic Priest.
A pedestrian walks by and says, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
“I’m proud,” John says. “Never been prouder.”