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Unrepentant: Rick Santorum and the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal

June 27, 2005

It has often been said that a gaffe is what happens when a politician speaks the truth.
In Senator Rick Santorum's case, the Catholic Crusader of the Keystone State he has spoken the truth about what he believes. For Santorum, liberalism, the Enlightenment and the scientific method are apparently a far greater crime in America than the thousands of children raped and sodomized by priests in his beloved Catholic Church.
As noted by the CapitolBuzz and Atrios, Santorum in a guest op-ed in Catholic Online in 2002 laid the blame for the clergy sex scandal not on the pedophiles and rapists so long protected by his Church, but on the broader permissive liberal culture:

The most obvious change must occur within American seminaries, many of which demonstrate the same brand of cultural liberalism plaguing our secular universities...It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning "private" moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.

In the three years since Santorum penned that abomination, the Catholic Church has paid out over $1 billion in settlements to thousands of victims nationwide. Just the Diocese of Covington in red state Kentucky is facing $120 million in payments. Several archdiocese are facing bankruptcy, including Portland, Tucson and Spokane, and more are expected. Virtually every major American city has been impacted, of course, because that's where the Catholics are.
Boston's unique and highly visible role in the exposure of the Catholic Church scandal had nothing to do with it being the "seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America." It had everything to do with greater Boston being perhaps the single most densely Catholic metro area in the nation, with Catholics even today still comprising over 50% of the population. Boston's closely intertwined Irish and Catholic traditions still run strong and permeate every aspect of culture, government and civic life in the Bay State.
In Rick Santorum's grotesque worldview, his beloved Church is an innocent, perverted by a culture of moral relativism. Santorum lives in a fantasy world of absolutes, where consensual sex between two men in a loving relationship is equivalent to the coercive rape of a young boy by his spiritual leader. For Santorum, in fact, the former is worse, as it causes the latter.
Mercifully for the United States, the vast majority of Americans disagree. Boston Catholics ran Cardinal Law out of town not because of his conservative politics, but because he perpetuated the scandal by approving the transfer of known pedophiles within his ranks. In his attempts to cover up the transgressions of his Archdiocese, Law banned the reform group Voice of the Faithful from meeting in his churches. The legacy for Law's successor Bishop Sean O'Malley is a devastated community of faith, with dozens of churches, schools, and other properties shuttered or sold off to pay for the misdeeds of the Archdiocese.
We can only hope that Rick Santorum will be tarred and feathered as was Law, as early 2006 polls suggest. (Law's punishment? He was booted upstairs to the Vatican.) Santorum, after all, has stated there is no constitutional right to privacy and that gay marriage, and not Al Qaeda, is the greatest threat facing the United States. Santorum, the same man who decried "man on man" and "man on dog" sex, can apparently try to explain away "man on boy" rape, as long as a wafer is involved. We should not expect Santorum to support adding the names of American priests to the proposed national sex offender registry.
In the end, it would seem that the devout Santorum does practice what he preaches. In the words of Acts 20:35, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
UPDATE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has issued words of praise for Santorum. Apparently, Santorum has been pushing legislation to ban puppy mills. Why? No doubt to prevent more canine temptresses from seducing American men into immoral "man on dog" action.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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