Santorum, the Catholic Church, and Child Sex Abuse

By Luke Brinker

As a follow-up to John’s post on Rick Santorum’s conservative brand of Catholicism, I thought it would be appropriate to examine how Santorum handled one of the gravest scandals to confront his religion. The sexual abuse of children by priests and the hierarchy’s decades-long cover-up of the crimes prompted this 2002 response from Santorum:

“Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture,” Santorum wrote. “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.”

Boston was indeed the “center of the storm” when the scandal erupted ten years ago. It’s worth noting that Cardinal Bernard Law, the top Catholic cleric in Boston who aided and abetted the Church’s cover-up, was a staunch conservative, unaffected by his city’s “academic, political, and cultural liberalism.” Moreover, it soon became apparent that child rape by priests was not confined to any one region of the country, or even to the United States alone. The problem was particularly widespread in Ireland, whose culture would hardly meet Santorum’s definition of libertine liberalism. The country prohibits abortion and did not even allow divorce (and even then only under limited circumstances) until 1997. That such a devout nation as Ireland was rocked by priestly pedophilia must confuse a committed theocrat like Santorum.

I’ve written that Mitt Romney is virtually guaranteed to win the Republican nomination, but that doesn’t mean that the ideas of his fellow candidates are irrelevant. Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Santorum’s sizable constituencies in the GOP tell us much about the popular impulses of one of our country’s two main political parties. And Santorum’s rise to prominence, however transient it will prove to be, is particularly troubling for more reasons than his anti-contraception, rabidly anti-gay views. That he would cavalierly dismiss child rape and its systematic concealment as nothing more than a byproduct of one region’s liberalism is demeaning, disgusting, and, in a sane world, disqualifying.

4 Comments

Filed under religion, Rick Santorum

4 responses to “Santorum, the Catholic Church, and Child Sex Abuse

  1. Pingback: Rick Santorum, Conservative Evangelicals, and the Ecumenicism of Hatred |

  2. Pingback: You have to wonder who’s in the GOP | storizabautpipol

  3. Pingback: Does Santorum think the pope is a ‘radical environmentalist’? | Grist

  4. Pingback: Santorum the Catholic Church and Child Sex Abuse | Vatican Report

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