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Beating Up on Senator Santorum

By Matt Abbott
Op/Ed

A commentary regarding the clergy sex abuse scandal, written by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in 2002, has caused considerable consternation in recent days, culminating with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and other Massachusetts Democrats calling for Santorum to apologize for his statements.

What's all the fuss about? The "offensive" statements are contained in the following paragraph of Santorum's commentary:

"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."

(Santorum's commentary can be read in its entirety here: http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=30)

In defense of Santorum, his commentary was written and posted when the scandal first exploded, which just happened to be in Boston. Most people, including perhaps the senator, did not yet realize the scope of the scandal. Of course, we now know that several other U.S. dioceses have had problems very similar to that of the Archdiocese of Boston. In fact, at least in terms of settlement money for abuse victims, there are two dioceses - Covington, Ky. and Orange County, Calif. - that have surpassed Boston. And we're still waiting to hear about the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

I could be wrong, but I don't think Santorum would include that last sentence about Boston were he to write such a commentary today. Not that it's per se inaccurate - Boston is indeed "a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America" - but it does give the impression that the culture was the primary cause of the scandal. And such, I believe, is not really the case.

Yes, it's a factor. But not necessarily the primary one. Negligence, the toleration and even promotion of disordered sexuality, and clericalism on the part of some of the clergy should be looked at as the primary cause(s) of the scandal. (I recommend that readers see the essay "Child Molestation by homosexuals and heterosexuals" here: http://www.hli.org/homosexuality_not_molestation.pdf)

Finally, if I had a dollar for every time Ted Kennedy did the "pot calling the kettle black" routine, I'd be a rich columnist.

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