The Vatican’s not very diplomatic ambassador

Annie Groer of Politics Daily has a weird story about the snotty comments that the Vatican’s chief diplomat in the United States has made to the sex abuse victim who has kept a longstanding vigil outside of the Vatican embassy. She writes:

For years, [John Wojnowski] was little more than a street-corner curiosity, cheered by some, jeered by others. But escalating stories worldwide about child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and what many consider Rome’s refusal to deal adequately with victims and offenders may finally have brought a measure of vindication to the retired ironworker.

In the latest twist, Wojnowski alleges 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.

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 [to] 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.

If I were still a Catholic, one of the things that would trouble me about the child-rape scandal is the collateral damage it has done to the Church’s credibility. From the ongoing sin against charity that is William Donohue of the Catholic League, to the Brazilian archbishop who recently said that all adolescents were spontaneously homosexual, to this chippy series of comments from the papal nuncio, the men who lead the church are engaging in behavior that suggests that a great many of them are unfit for the offices they hold.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports a) that Belgian bishops have refused to strengthen norms instituted by their counterparts in the United States to protect children against clerical predators, and b) that one predatory priest was sent to Sierra Leone to prey upon children in isolaton.

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