Tag Archives: Vatican

Day 183: Pope Francis

Photo: L'Osservatore Romano

Photo: L’Osservatore Romano

Five years ago I met John Wojnowski on Day 121 of my Year of Giving. He’s an intriguing man. Every day he sits in front of the Vatican’s embassy here in Washington with signs condemning the Catholic Church. I wondered why, so one day I went to talk with him.

It turns out Wojnowski, who is Polish but moved as a child to Italy, says that when he was 15 he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest in Milan. Despite the Catholic Church settling hundreds (possibly thousands) of cases of sexual abuse in recent years, they have been reluctant to consider Mr. Wojnowski’s claims because, according to Wojnowski, the priest has since past away and the incident happened more than a half century ago.

I have no doubts about Wojnowski’s claims – only something that hurtful and disturbing would make you lead such a personal and vulnerable crusade for nearly 20 years. He claims that a financial settlement will resolve this for him. I’m not so sure about that, but if that is what he thinks will give him peace, I hope that he receives it.

Day 183-2

Your Holiness,

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to you with a suggestion.

I live in Washington, D.C. Many things change here. Republicans and Democrats come and go with the change of administration. But one thing that has remained constant since I have lived here is John Wojnowski.

Day 183Every day for the past 17 years Mr. Wojnowski has stood in front of the Vatican’s embassy at the corner of Massachusetts and 34th Street holding signs that condemn the Catholic Church. The signs say thing like, “My life was ruined by a Catholic pedophile priest” and “The Vatican hides pedophiles.”

I’ve met Mr. Wojnowski – he shared with me the story of his sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in Milan, Italy in 1958. He’s a very troubled man who seeks financial restitution from the Church.

In the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People it details that the Catholic Church has paid more than $2.2 billion to settle 500+ sexual abuse cases in the U.S. in the past 13 years.

If you took the time to meet Mr. Wojnowski you wouldn’t doubt his story for a minute. He’s a simple man – he travels an hour each day, taking two buses, to get to the Vatican’s nunciature.

My point is this. He’s killing your image – thousands of people drive by him every day. He’s been doing this for nearly 20 years, he’s not going to stop until he dies or gets restitution. It just seems that the right thing to do is to offer him settlement. He can then move on with his life and you will not have someone tarnishing your brand every day. What do you think?

I hope that you will consider looking into this.
Reed Sandridge

P.S. I respect how you have led the Church these past two years. In a time when less people are identifying themselves as religious, you’re creating a renaissance, bringing younger Catholics back to the Church. And while I think there are still many reforms needed, it is inspiring to witness your leadership.


Sunday Notes & Letters

Wow, this project takes a lot more time than I thought! Don’t let that discourage you from writing your letters though. If it was just writing a letter now and then that would be fine. But writing the letter, photographing it, creating the social media posts for it – all that takes time! That being said, I’m enjoying this adventure very much.

Today, as I do on Sundays, I take a break from sharing my daily letter with you and share with you a story about handwritten letters. Today’s story comes from BBC News Europe.



It’s about a handwritten letter by Michelangelo that was stolen from the Vatican. Yep, a former Vatican employee pilfered several 500-year-old letters and is now demanding money, lots of money, for the safe return. A ransom note, made to the cardinal in charge of St. Peter’s Basilica, asked for €100,000 – or about $105,000.

The odd thing is these letters went missing nearly 20 years ago and the Vatican never reported them stolen. Either they didn’t know they were missing, which doesn’t bode well for their tidiness and security, or they kept it a secret which begs further questioning.


This is reportedly Michelangelo’s handwriting. Not the letter in question here – there does not seem to be a copy of that, but this seems to be a grocery list. Still very cool to see someone’s writing from 500 years ago. Credit: openculture.com

In any event, this is particularly interesting because there are very few letters in existence penned from the hand of the great renaissance artist. According to Il Messaggero newspaper in Italy he typically only signed his name and had one of his many assistants do the laborious tasks of putting words on paper.

Whoever you are, you are a thief. Just put the letters in an envelope and mail them back to the Vatican and be done with this.