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  1. Joined
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    22 Sep '15 13:512 edits
    https://popevisit2015.yahoo.com/post/129616122914/the-man-pope-francis-should-meet-in-washington



    When Pope Francis arrives in Washington Tuesday night, he will set his suitcase down at the Apostolic Nunciature, informally known as the Vatican Embassy. It’s an unassuming mansion along a highly trafficked stretch of Massachusetts Avenue, directly across the street from the Naval Observatory and the vice president’s mansion.

    When Francis looks out onto the locked-down avenue, however, closed to all but the southbound buses and a trickle of cars, he probably won’t see a 72-year-old, white-haired Polish immigrant named John Wojnowski, who has become as much a part of that sidewalk as the blistered concrete.

    And that’s a travesty, because it means that Francis will not see his embassy in quite the same way that many Washingtonians have glimpsed it through the years. He will not understand the lonely sacrifice of one broken, belittled man, or the depth of despair that exists in some quarters of the American church.

    Wojnowski’s story has no clear beginning or end; rather, it replays itself every day, in the same endless loop, and probably will for as long as he’s alive. So let’s just start it here:

    One day in 1997, Wojnowski read an in item in the newspaper about a sexual abuse scandal roiling a Catholic diocese in Texas, where the victim had killed himself. An Army veteran and longtime ironworker, Wojnowsk­i had just taken early retirement because of failing knees. Separated from his wife and emotionally estranged from his two children, he was living alone with his regrets in the working-class suburb of Bladensburg, Md., getting by on Social Security and a small pension.

    Something about this story jolted him. It unearthed, he says, the shards of an adolescent memory he had blocked from his mind for 40 years.

    When he was 15, Wojnowski will tell you, he was tutored by a middle-aged priest in Milan, where his father was a university librarian. The priest touched him and asked him to masturbate. Wojnowski, embarrassed and confused, asked if the priest was going to show his genitalia, too. The rest he has never remembered, or can’t.

    “I just remember standing outside the building,” he says. “The feeling was so terrible. So final. I ruined my life.”

    His first thought after reliving this memory, though he would be embarrassed to admit this later, was that maybe he could make some money off it. He needed money. Maybe the church would give him $20,000.

    So he entered a confessional and told a priest, and the priest sent him to a church therapist, and the therapist told him to write a letter to the Vatican’s embassy in Washington. The therapist told him exactly what the letter should say.

    An embassy official wrote Wojnowski back, asking for more details. Wojnowski, who has an eighth-grade education but a natural gift for language, provided more details in another letter, but no one at the embassy replied further. Nor did anyone answer his next several letters.

    “They were ignoring me,” Wojnowski says. “They were sure I would do nothing else.”

    Here’s what Wojnowski decided to do: He copied the question mark with which he had ended his most recent letter to the embassy and blew it up until you could see it from a block away. He put that question mark on a makeshift placard, along with a question addressed to Bishop William Lori: “Do you recognize this question mark?”

    Then he drove himself down to the embassy, stepped onto the public sidewalk and stood there. That’s it. Just stood there — a middle-aged man and his question mark.

    He did this for days — maybe weeks, he can’t remember now — until the bishop finally wrote him back, explaining that the priest who had abused him was long dead now, and there was nothing to be done. The church, he said, would pay for Wojnowski’s therapy.

    “To me, that was a joke,” Wojnowski says.

    He made a new sign. It said: “My life was ruined by a Catholic pedophile.” A young Italian priest came outside to talk with Wojnowski, or perhaps intimidate him. The way Wojnowski heard it, anyway, the priest told him his abuse was his own fault and that protesting in this way would only bring him shame and ridicule.

    He vowed to return every day. And he has.

    For more than 17 years now — more than 6,000 days, even allowing for a handful of absences — John Wojnowski has shown up on this sidewalk, weekdays and weekends, from late afternoon until darkness obscures him. Through three presidents and three popes, through swampy summers and polar fronts, through downpours and blizzards and cyclical storms of cicadas.

    I asked him, during a typical afternoon on his sidewalk last week, how long he intended to carry on with this mission, now that the pope had openly apologized for a scandal no one would even discuss when Wojnowski first took up his protest.

    Wojnowski didn’t quite answer. Instead he explained to me that his abuse as a teenager had left him emotionally paralyzed and bereft of self-confidence. He had broken one promise after another — to be a better husband, to spend more time with his kids. He paid for classes in electronics and psychology, hoping to broaden his career, but could never bring himself to follow through.

    “I never finished nothing,” Wojnowski said, disgusted with himself. “I intend to finish this.”

    *****

    As it happens, Newsweek brought me to Washington in 1997, right about the time that Wojnowski was staking out his sidewalk. I lived about a mile away, in Glover Park, and on a lot of afternoons I would drive past and read his sign. Eventually I would honk and smile, because I admired his tenacity, and he would wave appreciatively.

    Like most Washingtonians, I had no idea who he was, nor did I realize that the unmarked building behind him belonged to the church. For years, I presumed he had chosen that spot because of the vice president’s house and the steady stream of rush-hour traffic.

    Several weekends ago, I found myself paused at the stoplight at Massachusetts and 34th Street, and there was Wojnowski, sitting at the adjacent bus stop. When I lowered the window to say hello, he handed me a flyer. Along with his indictment of the church, the paper said he generally arrived at 4.

    I wondered what he would have to say about the pope’s impending visit. So one afternoon, I parked my car on a nearby side street and strolled down to the embassy to wait. A few motorists eyed me suspiciously, as if I might be preparing to whip out my own sign and take over the sidewalk.

    Sure enough, a few minutes past 4, Wojnowski arrived — he hasn’t driven for years and instead rides the bus for an hour each way, give or take — and began his preparation at the bus stop where we’d chatted a few weeks back.

    The routine itself is like a sacrament. Wojnowski sits on the sheltered bench — he is plagued now by cataracts and hearing loss, and his bony hands shake — and assembles his signpost, which is a broom handle duct-taped to the kind of thin plastic pole that might hold a household Swiffer. He then removes the sign from protective plastic bags, rolled up and fastened with a belt, and attaches it with rope at either end.

    He is small and wiry, with thin white hair and watery eyes. He wore a tattered canvas shirt, and his cellphone was tethered to him by a rope on his waist that snaked around his neck and into a torn chest pocket.

    “I’m a dull person,” he told me as he worked. “If I could write, I would not be doing this. But I can’t write, so I’m doing this the hard way.”

    We walked the half-block down to the embassy, over gouges in the sidewalk that Wojnowski made many years ago, when he used to display his sign on a metal contraption. Now he holds it up himself.

    It is not easy work, especially on a warm day in waning summer. The canvas sign is maybe 12 feet long, weighing a few pounds even without the poles, and he hoists it about chin high, flipping it around every few minutes for the passing motorists.

    On one side the sign says: VATICAN HIDES PEDOPHILES. The reverse side proclaims: CATHOLIC COWARDS. Each has a website.

    When Wojnowski first took up his post, he told me, a lot of drivers would jeer at him or shout insults. He said he had several run-ins over the years with hostile officials from the embassy, one of whom, he claims, spit in his face.

    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?...
  2. Joined
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    22 Sep '15 13:56
    “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.

    Wojnowski shrugged him off.

    “All my life, I avoided people,” he told me. “I learned to talk on this corner. Now I feel like a motor-mouth.”

    His phone rang several times. Twice it was his brother in Poland. Once it was his wife, who now lives on her own in Florida and calls every day to check on him.

    The question you might be asking yourself, by now, is what exactly Wojnowski wants. What are the demands that keep him on this sidewalk, year after year, even as the church admits to its own shame?

    I wondered the same thing. I pointed out to Wojnowski that the world now acknowledged the systematic abuse he had set out to expose. Pope Francis had been remarkably frank and contrite about the damage, going so far as to meet with victims in the Vatican.

    “To me, that’s only words,” he said. “It’s easy to use words.”

    But didn’t Wojnowski feel vindicated? Hadn’t he won?

    “No!” he shouted at me. He looked genuinely annoyed. “You must not be very smart. I wanted financial reparation!”

    Over the years, Wojnowski explained, his initial thought of getting 20 grand had mushroomed to the hundreds of thousands and then into the millions, although now he had settled on a figure of $240,000. He wouldn’t say why that number, exactly.

    He said he also wanted the church to take out a full-page ad in the Washington Post apologizing for its treatment of him.

    You see, the way Wojnowski talks about it, he has no more control over whether he shows up on this sidewalk tomorrow than you or I do over paying taxes or sending our kids to school. The church has stolen 17 years of an old man’s life, he says, one monotonous day after another, by refusing to make him whole.

    His only choice was to get justice, no matter how long it takes. It’s the church that keeps choosing to withhold it.

    “I would be an idiot if I stopped,” he told me. “There’s no reason for me to stop.”

    *****

    You might be tempted to dismiss Wojnowski as just another hustler, albeit an unusually determined one. You might think this obsession he has with cash cheapens his Cassandra-like story, because in the end all he really wants is to be paid off, like everyone else.

    The way I see it, though, Wojnowski’s demand is like any other form of moral restitution. It’s not substantively different from African-Americans talking about reparations for slavery, or Japanese-Americans receiving payments 40 years after their internment, or the heirs of Holocaust victims fighting to reclaim their stolen art.

    The money matters not for what it can buy, but because it is a tangible price to be paid, an acknowledgment of evil inflicted. This is, perhaps, why Wojnowski has never been consistent about how much he wants. What’s the going rate on a lifetime of depression and regret?

    And the more I reflected on my encounter with Wojnowski, the more I came to believe that it wasn’t really about the money, anyway. He hadn’t gone out and hired a lawyer, like other victims of abuse. He wasn’t seriously seeking meetings to negotiate his withdrawal from the sidewalk.

    Wojnowski holds the banner, literally, for the thousands of victims that he often talks about. (Photo: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

    No, Wojnowski had to know that he was never going to see a dime for his pain. And yet he came, still, to the corner.

    That’s because the sidewalk is his path to redemption, the thing that gives meaning now to what he considers an otherwise wasted life. It is, as he says, the one thing he will finish.

    As long as he is getting on that bus and unrolling his sign and jousting with the occasional heckler, Wojnowski is holding the banner, literally, for the thousands of victims — who knows how many — he often talks about, people who live with that awful silence or who take their own lives because of it.

    And this is why I’d like to think that Pope Francis might instruct his subordinates to go out and find this old man Wojnowski (who will be holding his sign somewhere as close to the barricades as he can get). If Francis can meet with victims at the Vatican and wash the feet of peasants in Rome, then surely he can invite Wojnowski into the embassy for a polite coffee and take the time to listen to his story.

    Because as Francis himself has now acknowledged, Wojnowski was right about the spreading darkness in the Catholic Church, when just about everyone driving by that embassy, and everybody buzzing around inside it, was wrong.

    John Wojnowski may never find what he’s looking for in that mansion at Massachusetts Avenue and 34th Street. But the sidewalk will always be his.
  3. SubscriberKingDavid403
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    22 Sep '15 14:003 edits
    Originally posted by whodey
    “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 soun ...[text shortened]... or in that mansion at Massachusetts Avenue and 34th Street. But the sidewalk will always be his.
    That all happen before the Pope was saved. Just like Kim Davis and her four husbands, 15 years old and he claims to be a victim? I think at 15 he knew what the hell was going on and he choose to follow along. I was living on my own as an adult and working full time at the age of 15. Give us a break. At 15, I would have punched the priest in the nose and walked out. Now he wants some money? Don't we all.
  4. Joined
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    22 Sep '15 14:152 edits
    Originally posted by KingDavid403
    That all happen before the Pope was saved. Just like Kim Davis and her four husbands, 15 years old and he claims to be a victim? I think at 15 he knew what the hell was going on and he choose to follow along. I was living on my own as an adult and working full time at the age of 15. Give us a break. At 15, I would have punched the priest in the nose and walked out. Now he wants some money? Don't we all.
    I would just suggest, instead of the Pope living in the lap of luxury and cohorting with the heads of state as he visits the US he should talk to people like this man instead.

    As you point out, this sort of thing has been going on in the Catholic church for a very long time. What will be done about it? What is being done about it?

    Instead of lecturing the world about the need to address injustice, perhaps they could pluck the beam out of their own eye first.
  5. Joined
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    22 Sep '15 16:19
    It's not looking good for the man in the OP. Here is the schedule of the busy Pope.



    Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base Sept. 22, 4pm

    President Obama, Vice President Biden, and their wives will personally welcome the pope, an honor extended to no other world leader. There will be plenty of body language to interpret—but little else.

    White House welcome and meeting with President Obama Sept. 23, 9:15am

    An intimate group of 15,000 will gather on the South Lawn to witness Pope Francis’ arrival at the White House. It is expected that the pope and Obama will reemerge on the Truman Balcony for a photo op before meeting privately in the Oval Office—and Francis may say a few words to the crowd. But given the setting and the pontiff’s uneasy relationship with English, he’s unlikely to go beyond a few phrases. Wait for the official readouts of the meeting from the White House and the Vatican press offices.

    Prayer with the U.S. Bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral Sept. 23, 11:30am

    The joint address to Congress and speech to the U.N. will get more attention, but this may be the most significant talk Francis gives in the U.S. Some of the most blunt remarks of this papacy have been directed to fellow clergy. (His 2014 Christmas message to the cardinals, bishops, and priests who run the Holy See included a cataloguing of their top 15 failings.) The pope will speak to the U.S. bishops in Spanish, which will allow him to be more pointed and open to going off script. If all you’ve seen of the pope is his warm huggy-bear side, this appearance is a must-see in order to understand the reformer role Francis is playing as well.

    Address to Joint Session of Congress Sept. 24, 9:20am

    The first pope to address the U.S. Congress, Francis will find a warm reception from representatives and senators, one-third of whom are Catholic. His speech, which will be in English, is likely to be relatively brief. Possible topics include: climate change, economic inequality, the Middle East, dignity of life, immigration, criminal justice, religious freedom, and racial injustice. Keep an eye on former altar boys Joe Biden and John Boehner, seated directly behind the pope while he speaks. They are divided by most of these same issues, but will be united for the day in their fan-boy admiration for this pope. A must-see.

    Lunch with Catholic Charities clients Sept. 24, 11:15am

    The pope’s presence at the White House and Congress on Wednesday is in response to invitations, but the stop he requested for his itinerary is lunch with some of Washington’s most vulnerable residents outside the headquarters for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. This is one of the few such gatherings at which video cameras will be allowed, so it’s likely that we’ll see some classic Francis pastoral moments.

    NEW YORK

    Address to the United Nations General Assembly Sept. 25, 8:30am

    Francis’ speech to the General Assembly takes place two months before the UN’s Paris Climate Change Conference, so it will come as no surprise if he spends a good portion of his remarks—which will be in Spanish—on the topic. As he did in his recent encyclical, expect the pope to link the issues of climate change, consumerism, and global poverty.

    Mass at Madison Square Garden Sept. 25, 6pm

    This is a wild card event. The pope always includes topical references in his homilies, but it is anyone’s guess whether those remarks will be extensive, or whether the pace of the trip will be catching up to him by this point.

    PHILADELPHIA

    Visit to Independence Mall Sept. 26, 4:45pm

    Using the same podium from which Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, Pope Francis will address a crowd of roughly 50,000—drawn largely from Hispanic and immigrant communities. His remarks are expected to focus on religious liberty and immigration, which will have particular resonance given the ongoing GOP presidential campaign. Don’t be surprised if Francis singles out young Hispanics, who make up a majority of younger Catholics in the U.S., but who studies show are leaving the church at higher rates than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

    Read More


    The Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Sept. 26, 7:30pm

    At least one million people are expected to attend the international celebration, part of the World Meeting of Families. The pope will offer some brief remarks, but the real reason to watch? A performance by the one and only Aretha Franklin.

    Meeting with international bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel Sept. 27, 9:15am

    As with Francis’ talk to the U.S. bishops in Washington, he may use the opportunity challenge his brothers in Christ. He will speak in Spanish, and because his audience is in town to attend the World Meeting of Families, his comments will be dissected to see if they provide a preview of the sure-to-be-controversial Synod of Bishops on family issues in Rome next month.

    Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility Sept. 27, 11am

    Francis’ ministry to prisoners has been a key aspect not just of his papacy but of his time in Buenos Aires as well. One of his first outings after becoming pope was a Holy Thursday service at which he washed the feet of a dozen juvenile inmates in Rome. On his recent trip to Bolivia, the pope spoke at the infamous Palmasola Prison, known for violence and overcrowding, and told prisoners he was a sinner like them. At Curran-Fromhold, he’ll meet with 100 selected prisoners and their families, and he will probably use the opportunity to urge U.S. leaders to take action on criminal justice and prison reform. (This stop will not be televised, but a handful of journalists—including Yahoo News—will accompany Pope Francis to the prison.)

    Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families Sept. 27, 4pm

    Pope Francis will wrap up his first ever visit to the U.S. with a massive gathering along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway—up to 2 million people are expected to attend. The pope will celebrate Mass, and most likely speak briefly about economic justice, which happens to also be the topic of this week’s lectionary reading. If you’re not Pope-d out, it’s worth tuning in to see an enormous crowd of Philadelphians cheering exhortations to take care of the poor—instead of a sack by the Eagles’ defensive line.
  6. Joined
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    22 Sep '15 16:20
    Continuous meetings with world leaders seems to be the reason for the visit.
  7. Germany
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    22 Sep '15 16:33
    Did the Pope get a restraining order against you yet, whodey?
  8. SubscriberSuzianne
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    22 Sep '15 16:46
    Originally posted by whodey
    “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 soun ...[text shortened]... or in that mansion at Massachusetts Avenue and 34th Street. But the sidewalk will always be his.
    Maybe you should give attribution to the story, for those out here who don't follow links.

    A by-line would also serve to let us know you didn't write it, not that we haven't guessed.
  9. Subscriberno1marauder
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    22 Sep '15 17:16
    Originally posted by whodey
    https://popevisit2015.yahoo.com/post/129616122914/the-man-pope-francis-should-meet-in-washington



    When Pope Francis arrives in Washington Tuesday night, he will set his suitcase down at the Apostolic Nunciature, informally known as the Vatican Embassy. It’s an unassuming mansion along a highly trafficked stretch of Massachusetts Avenue, directly across ...[text shortened]... .

    “Do you know any man who doesn’t commit sin?” his interrogator asked. “And priests too?...
    The guy sounds like a money hustling nut. Reads about a case of sexual abuse and then suddenly recalls 40 years later he might have been sexually abused and immediately starts demanding money from the RCC. Even though there wasn't anything to support his story and the accused abuser was long dead, the Church offered to pay for his therapy but he wanted cash, so he's been sticking a sign up on a sidewalk for 18 years.

    He's admittedly been a failure all his life and found something to blame it on. His story lacks credulity.
  10. Subscriberno1marauder
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    22 Sep '15 18:031 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    Continuous meetings with world leaders seems to be the reason for the visit.
    Yes like the "world leaders" who are clients with Catholic Charities and are in prison. Masses at MSG and in public in Philly with perhaps 2 million "world leaders" attending.

    It's like you didn't even read the itinerary.
  11. Subscriberno1marauder
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    22 Sep '15 19:58
    Originally posted by whodey
    “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 soun ...[text shortened]... or in that mansion at Massachusetts Avenue and 34th Street. But the sidewalk will always be his.
    From wiki:

    In 1997, Wojnowski's memory of molestation was revived by newspaper accounts of Rudy Kos, a Texas pedophile priest sentenced to life in prison and whose victims were awarded $119 million in damages. The case, and the huge damage award, got him thinking.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wojnowski

    I'm sure it did.
  12. Joined
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    22 Sep '15 23:15
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    The guy sounds like a money hustling nut. Reads about a case of sexual abuse and then suddenly recalls 40 years later he might have been sexually abused and immediately starts demanding money from the RCC. Even though there wasn't anything to support his story and the accused abuser was long dead, the Church offered to pay for his therapy but he wanted c ...[text shortened]... tedly been a failure all his life and found something to blame it on. His story lacks credulity.
    Yes, he whines about being molested ruining his life

    What a pathetic loser he is, eh Marauder?
  13. Joined
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    22 Sep '15 23:17
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Yes like the "world leaders" who are clients with Catholic Charities and are in prison. Masses at MSG and in public in Philly with perhaps 2 million "world leaders" attending.

    It's like you didn't even read the itinerary.
    Why so touchy? I'm sure his time spent with people like Obama will be well spent.
  14. Subscriberno1marauder
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    23 Sep '15 00:201 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    Yes, he whines about being molested ruining his life

    What a pathetic loser he is, eh Marauder?
    He made himself into a loser by his own admission. Then after being a loser, suddenly read an article about victims of a pedophile priest getting a huge monetary settlement. Miraculously, his "suppressed memories" burst through; now he had a chance for a big windfall AND an excuse for his life choices.

    If if wasn't for your irrational hatred of the RCC (the Church Jesus created), even you would see what a transparent fraud this guy almost certainly is.
  15. Standard memberRJHinds
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    23 Sep '15 01:321 edit
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    Maybe you should give attribution to the story, for those out here who don't follow links.

    A by-line would also serve to let us know you didn't write it, not that we haven't guessed.
    Suzianne, he gave the link in the very beginning.
    Matt Bai
    September 21, 2015

    I feel sorry that this man may have wasted all those years with hate, when he could have forgiven those and worked to make a better life for himself and others like him through love of his fellow men.
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