There are plenty of reasons to bash Boston. But for Sen. Rick Santorum to single the city out as more of a fertile breeding ground for sexual abuse than the rest of the country is just wrong. And dumb. Here’s the three-year-old column that Ted Kennedy and friends are up in arms about–and I have to say that they are right, this time, to be incensed.
In the 2002 article, Santorum wrote:
While it is no excuse for this [Catholic priest pedophilia] scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.
This week, Santorum defended the comments and his spokesman added yesterday:
The abuse…”was particularly worse in Boston and the reason why, according to the senator, is because of some of the social institutions that call Boston home. When you take a look at Harvard University and some of the other universities in Boston, I think it’s an open secret that there is a liberal bias, unfortunately.”
What?! I’m all for discussing “No Guardrails” theory and there are thoughtful critiques of liberalism’s corrosive impact on the Catholic Church, but Santorum does not bother to explain how sexual promiscuity at Harvard Law is to blame for pedophile-sheltering by Cardinal Law. He ignores the facts, which do not support his theory that abuse was “particularly worse in Boston” because it is liberal.
The WaPo points out:
Based on statistics publicly reported by many of the country’s 195 dioceses, the Boston-based lay activist group BishopAccountability.org has calculated that the highest percentage of abusive priests from 1950 to 2003 was in the diocese of Covington, Ky. Boston was among the 10 worst dioceses, but several other cities commonly regarded as liberal culturally and politically had relatively low rates of abuse. Just 1.6 percent of San Francisco’s priests have been accused of abuse, for example, compared to more than 4 percent nationwide.
The Boston Globe editorial board adds:
Boston does indeed have a liberal reputation, but what does that have to do with sexual abuse? The archdioceses in San Francisco and New York reported sexual abuse figures of 1.4 percent and 1.19 percent. If liberalism were a factor, surely it would have manifested itself in higher rates for those bastions of the left.
In a report last year, the National Review Board found other culprits in Boston. ”The picture that emerged was that of a diocese with a cadre of predator priests and a hierarchy that simply refused to confront them and stop them,” it said. Perhaps it was the particular culture of the bishops and priests in the archdiocese, not the political climate of the broader society, that caused the scandal to fester here so long.
I’m with fellow Catholic conservative Ed Morrissey:
It is unfair in the extreme of Santorum to blame the scandals on the community of Boston, a community that indeed was victimized by the pedophiliacs and those who hid their crimes. Santorum’s remarks attempt to turn the blame away from the criminals and onto the victims. Those remarks were wrong three years ago, and he should have known better than to repeat them now.
Santorum should correct the record immediately. If Molly Ivins can do it, so can he.
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