Sen. Rick Santorum blames Boston liberalism for the pedophile scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.
Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, refused yesterday to back off on his earlier statements connecting Boston’s “liberalism” with the Roman Catholic Church pedophile scandal, saying that the city’s “sexual license” and “sexual freedom” nurtured an environment where sexual abuse would occur.
“The basic liberal attitude in that area . . . has an impact on people’s behavior,” Santorum said in an interview yesterday at the Capitol.
“If you have a world view that I’m describing [about Boston] . . . that affirms alternative views of sexuality, that can lead to a lot of people taking it the wrong way,” Santorum said.
Santorum, a leader among Christian conservatives, was responding to questions about remarks he made three years ago on a website called Catholic Online. In those comments, Santorum said, “It is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm” of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
The junior senator is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and is considered a possible candidate for his party’s presidential nomination in 2008, if he wins reelection to a third Senate term next year.
The senator’s words sparked instant reaction from Massachusetts political leaders, who ridiculed Santorum’s suggestion that priests were driven to abuse children by the city’s liberal culture.
US Representative Barney Frank, a Newton Democrat, called Santorum “a jerk” and pointed out that the senator tried to use the levers of the federal government to block the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube, an act that Santorum likened to “execution.” An autopsy found that Schiavo’s brain was half the normal size and that she could not see anything.
“This is one of those people who claims to have had eye contact with a blind woman,” Frank said.
Representative Martin T. Meehan, Democrat of Lowell, said, “There’s not much you can say about someone who claims to have read the Bible cover to cover and came away from it thinking it encourages hatred for fellow human beings.”
David Wade, spokesman for Senator John F. Kerry, said, “Sometimes you wonder whether Rick Santorum can possibly believe the radically wrong words that escape his mouth.”
Santorum has startled Washington in the past. In a 2003 interview with the Associated Press, he linked “man on child” and “man on dog” sex with homosexuality, describing them as deviant behaviors that threatened traditional marriage. Earlier this year, he apologized for comparing the Democrats blocking President Bush’s judicial nominees to the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler.
Oh please please please Rick run for president in ’08, even if you get your ass kicked by Robert Casey, Jr. in ’06. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.