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Defending Rick Santorum

After reading Pennywit's piece about Rick Santorum last night, I thought I'd take a look for myself at exactly what he said. After all, I live in Boston's back yard, so to speak, and that was the target of his denouncements.

I took a careful look at the Boston Globe account of their interview with Santorum, and I have come to the conclusion that he is right on several key points.

Is Boston (and, by extension, Massachusetts) one of the most liberal states in the Union? Indisputably. Was Boston one of the main "epicenters" of the Catholic sex-abuse scandals? Absolutely. And can the "sexual revolution" of the 60's and 70's, championed by liberals and denounced by conservatives, be fairly blamed for many of the sex-related social ills of society today, with permissiveness and promiscuity leading to rises in teen pregnancy, children born out of wedlock, and epidemics of sexually-transmitted disease? Arguably, yes.

But where Santorum erred, I believe, is in the logical fallacy of "post hoc ergo propter hoc" -- "Because B followed A, A caused B." It was that sort of reasoning that led to the theories of abiogenesis and spontaneous generation, when "scientists" of yore saw flies and maggots "appearing" out of non-organic material, and presumed they spontaneously appeared. And it's that sort of so-called "reasoning" that leads, to cite a local example, to look at New Hampshire's nearly all-white population and speculate that that is the reason that the state has such a low crime rate, or high SAT scores. Conversely, the overwhelmingly white population here also is blamed for "bigotry" and "racism." It's poor logic to presume that correlation equals causation.

In the case of the Catholic Church's sex-abuse problems, it isn't a political matter. The Church is not monolithically conservative or liberal; it tends towards both extremes, depending on the issue. In most social policies, it's quite liberal, but when the matter comes to sex, it's exceptionally conservative.

From my (limited) understanding, the problem first came to the fore when a large group of men with pedophilic tendencies joined the seminary in the early 1960's (well ahead of the sexual revolution). Their reasoning, it seems, was that they had these "unnatural desires" and joined the Church in hopes of suppressing them. Instead of seeking help for their urges, they instead joined an organization where sexuality of any kind was to be repressed. I guess they were trying to make a pact with God: if He'd get rid of those desires, they'd give their lives to His service. Unfortunately, apparently God never agreed to His side of their offer.

This would have been bad enough, but it happened to coincide with a patriarchy in the Boston Archdiocese that was far more interested in protecting the Church's image than their parishioners. They were very poor shepherds to their flock and when they couldn't ignore these pedophile priests' molestations any longer, they paid off the victims and transferred the priests to new, unsuspecting parishes -- often with glowing recommendations and fervent hopes that they'd finally "find salvation" and give up their urges.

And that continued on for years and years, millions and millions of hush money and shattered childhoods, until finally the pressure from all those coverups finally burst, and the truth -- as it inevitably does -- finally came out.

So, Santorum is right in the sum of his argument, but woefully wrong on his conclusions. Massachusetts does indeed have all those problems, but to try to interconnect them is just plain wrong.

And as someone who's largely made his "living" around here by bashing the Bay State, it gives me great pain to have to come to the People's Democratic Republic of Massachusetts' defense. But Santorum is wrong here, and needs to be denounced for it.

Besides, as I've said before, Santorum is an asshole anyway.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Defending Rick Santorum:

» Pennywit.Com linked with Do Republicans Stand With Bigots?

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Comments (17)

The only defense I can offe... (Below threshold)

The only defense I can offer for Santorum's asshattery, is that he is a sincere asshat. He won't for something until he votes against it, for instance. His consistency and sincerity find me defending him more often than agreement ever does.

The pedophile priest proble... (Below threshold)

The pedophile priest problem was(is) an international problem. A European seminary had to be shut down due to the pedophelia practiced there. There have been a number of priests convicted of child sex crimes in both the Cincinnati and Covington (KY) arch-dioceses, along w/ dioceses nationwide. The Church hierachy in many of these dioceses covered these abuses up, so boston is not unique, nor do I believe its 'liberal' culture an important reason for the problem.

Santorum's analysis, as you... (Below threshold)
Michael Seifert:

Santorum's analysis, as you argue is incredibly faulty. I'm not sure your narrow assignment is accurate either.
Catholic vocations suffered declining enrollment in the post WWII environment that accelerated in the late 50's and early 60's. As in any organization with declining enrollment, standards of selection declined.
At the same time, the Catholic Church is not alone in the inability of its Episcopacy to effectively manage its own clergy. In many matters, not just sexual misbehavior, 'bad apples' would get moved around rather than sorted out.
Santorum IS right about one thing in his article.

I don't believe that child ... (Below threshold)

I don't believe that child abuse by some priests arose as a result of those men's attempts to suppress their desires and be celibate. This suggests that celibacy itself is the problem. The real problem is the bad moral choices of some men.

Men who really want to remain celibate for religous reasons can certainly do so. If nothing else, they can choose to leave the preisthood promptly if they decide that they no longer wish to live by their vow of celibacy.

What is morally wrong is to take a vow of celibacy before God and then ignore it.

Some gay men obviously joined the priesthood because they saw it as a convenient way to stay unmarried forever witout drawing attention to the fact that they were gay. Whether these gay men who became priests and then molested children ever intended to stay celibate is an open question. I suspect that many of them did not.
They made very bad moral choices -- first they took a vow of celibacy, then they consciously decided to break their vow, and, worse, they involved innocent children.

The solution is not to give up on celibacy. While I personally see a lifetime of celibacy as tough, people who believe that it is a way to serve God have every right to take such vows, and they have my respect for their commitment to God.

The solution from the standpoint of the church is to make sure that men who choose the priesthood are really committed to their vow of celibacy, not just using the preisthood as a way to hide a gay lifestyle. No solution will ever be perfect, but now that the church is aware of the extent of the problem, it should be easier to identify those priests who are not actually living by their vows. Those men should be shown the door. A man who will consciously break his promises to God cannot be trusted to keep his other important promises to the chuch or to churchgoers.

The state of Massachusetts ... (Below threshold)

The state of Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the nation (about 1/3 as many divorces as Godly red Nevada and Arkansas and about half the rate of the nation as a whole). Massachusetts has one of the lowest murder rates in the nation (2.2 murders per 100,000)-- Louisiana (17.5 per 100,000), Mississippi (11.1), Alabama (10.4), Tennessee (9.5) and South Carolina (9.0) are the top five, all red states, and all of them with a Godly capital punishment deterrent.

Massachusetts has a teen pregnancy rate of 60 per 1,000-- tied with Godly Rick Santorum's semi-moral blue Pennsylvania for 37th out of 50 states, and about half the rate of Godly, ultra moral red Nevada.

Disgusting evil liberal Massachusetts has had a Catholic child sex abuse scandal that is second in the nation only to Godly, saintly red Kentucky, which just settled theirs for a record $120 million, $35 million more than Massachusetts-- dispite the fact that they have far fewer Catholics and far fewer priests. Indeed, Massachusetts is famous not for having more child sexual abuse, but being the first to do something about it.

Another horrible and immoral thing about Massachusetts is the way they waste money on stupid things like educating children. They throw the third most of any state down that useles rathole. Furthermore, "Taxachusetts" has a disgusting, liberal 5% sales tax! Can you imagine? I would much rather live in Godly, red-as-blood Alabama (8%), Arkansas (7.95%), Mississippi (7%), Tennessee (9.35% in Memphis), or Louisiana (8.55% in New Orleans) and have the knowledge that I am being moral and saintly than live in evil, immoral Taxachusetts! Although they have no inheritance or estate tax, I'll bet they wish they did! And although their state income tax is lower (5.3%) than Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, I'll bet those evil liberals are plotting an increase!

So in spite of these "facts," and "statistics," and "the truth," and "proof of exactly the opposite of what Santorum said," Massachusetts and its Godless, shameful liberal politics have turned the state into America's Epicenter of Evil.

I find what most of what's ... (Below threshold)

I find what most of what's written here, Jay Tea, to be appreciative but you make one huge error in your suppositions, upon which your following best guesses are based.

And that is, you reason that (I'll paraphrase inorder to be quick here) homosexuals joined the Priesthood inorder to suppress their sexual proclivities, and thus, sexual predation by some within the Priesthood resulted.

No. Homosexuals actively pursued the Priesthood with a plan to defile the Catholic Church and the Priesthood and they made a very good stab at both with their later plans resulting in increasing numbers of theirs recruited, enabled and then allowed to do what they wanted without much supervision (there are terrible stories about terrible acts by some and I'm not repeating them here), however, homosexual activism and sexual predators are two sets of the same problem: sexual abuse by people placed in positions of trust, who are by that process provided access to victims/partners.

The homosexual activism -- it's also now working toward the same end in some protestant organizations as it did earlier in the Catholic Church -- establishes some homosexuals in positions in Seminaries and then allows greater numbers who are not devoted to scripture and the Church doctrine (primarily, to devote to celibacy as an aspect of the Orders, among other aspects with various Orders). And by that process, then allow (recruit, I don't know but it's been suggested that there was a recruitment process by social relationships by some earlier and I don't find that idea implausible) others and then reach some measure of commonality ("a lot of Priests are homosexuals" sort of standard, later also applied in present time to protestant groups as in, "a lot of members are homosexuals," etc.)...

The key element there is that the vows and religious principles are then modified afterward by a social, humanistic standard that disavows the Scriptural, spiritual and ethical standards of the Priesthood, and now protestant spiritual groups, and yet accommodates some among homosexuals who need to continue their behaviors. You get a custom-fashioned "church" by that process that disparages the Christian principles and accommodates homosexuality instead, and then criticizes, denigrates, those who remain committed to the actual founding spiritual ethics, dogma.

It's a process of defilement. And, sexual predators seek out opportunities by which they can have access without keen scrutiny to victims...thus, it's a bit of a differnet process and your suggestion that homosexuals joined the Catholic Priesthood to "suppress" their behaviors is entirely wrong...many joined at earlier times to actually encourage access to both their own (other homosexuals also joined) and to victims, if/when they were of predatory nature and intent.

However, the standards of the Seminary have changed, in my knowledge and faith of what's occured. At least, most of us are now assuming so, given that there isn't a discrimination about homosexuals but there is a requirement of celibacy by Priests.

Sexual predators are another thing, but still and often comingled with homosexual behaviors, unfortunately, but not expressly. And, if and when an individual of either heterosexuality or homosexuality is not confident of their calling for a celibate life in the Priesthood, they are not encouraged to continue in the process toward vows of the Priesthood. It's a calling that most who pursue the Priesthood feel gifted by God to receive, not a burden (celibacy) that needs to be dealth with by "suppressing" otherwise sexual urges or such.

But, Santorum hasn't spoken about this process and unfortunately, the issue of "sexual abuse by Priests" has stuck in terror and terrible impact in the social discussion by many, to the exclusion and avoidance of coming to terms with sexual abuse by adults in other professions, not only by some as Catholics in the Priesthood. The issue isn't so much which group predators end up in but which Seminaries and by what process allow the individuals with these problems to gain access to the public in a display of violation of trust. But it's not limited to or inherent to the Catholic Church, is the point, and it's a case of the psychological behaviors and troubles by some humans as to abnormal sexual behaviors.

To rail (not you, but others have) about people (like Santorum) who try to point out that sexual abuse (of many fashions) is committed by homosexuals (and some heterosexuals, but it's more common among those who ALSO engage in homosexual behaviors) is to blame the messenger. Santorum made a point that many people cannot confront and that is that it's a case of behaviors and of certain people with those behviors working continually to undermine and alter social standards about what is tolerable and what is not even noteworthy.

Just look at the Church of Christ (huh?) and the recent changes in the Episcopal Church in the U.S....people who are devoted to Christian ideology have abandoned those groups and for good reason. My estimation after reading much from both groups recently is that it is, unfortunatley, similar to what took place previously in the Catholic Church and that is that people whose interests in homosexuality for various reasons and toward various ends, whose interst in Christianity is far less, focus on certain groups and then work to alter the standards of those groups, with abandon to and about the actual religious ideology involved.

However, the Catholic Church remains dedicated to the ideology that requires celibacy among the Priesthood and that is dedicated to the Christian belief/principle that homosexuality is sinful behavior. Some among protestants do, also, as to the latter.

Because homosexuality is today a trendy aspect to popular culture, people who defy those trendy memes are ridiculed by those who are committed to them but it's a case of homosexuality, in my view, of needing to rework public acceptance of their behaviors but BY homosexuals in many walks of life, and yet which and who still defy the religious ideology and beliefs of most in most Christian groups and practices today, as in times past.

"Proverbs" above has it rig... (Below threshold)

"Proverbs" above has it right...

Suzy, maybe I didn't make i... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Suzy, maybe I didn't make it clear enough. The "urges" and "inclinations" I referred to were their pedophilic tendencies, NOT homosexuality. I do NOT consider them one and the same, and I think the overlap between the two is minimal. Santorum lumps them in together; I do not.


As to Boston and a few othe... (Below threshold)

As to Boston and a few other probematic Dioceses, if those who are expected to be supervising problematic behaviors are also engaged in or are sympathetic to those problematic behaviors, there isn't likely going to result any penalty for those problematic behaviors...more of what I was earlier describing as societies of those involved in the same behaviors, having established an environment in which their behaviors are no longer deemed problematic.

They simply compensate for one another, discourage or even thwart public complaints about the problem and then thereby allow the problematic behaviors to either continue or those responsible to slip away or be easily hidden elsewhere.

It's not the Catholic Church or the ideology of Christianity but again, a problem of social networks in place that condone or at least allow for the problematic behaviors. And in Boston, and elsewhere, groups existed who did just that where sexual abuse by some in the Priesthood and now in other protestant organizations has occured.

And/or in other organizations, same thing: get enough involved who are sympathetic to the problematic behaviors and then and thereby diminish any or much possibility of reprimand, eliminate anyone who would or could complain by whatever means necessary and you get an established network later of people who support and encourage/assist one another in the continuation of the problematic behavior.

What is then necessary to confront such is that people from elsewhere have to intervene on behalf of both a respect for an ideology being abused and on behalf of, most importantly, people being victimized by an abnormal delivery of that ideology.

It's a tough problem but to ridicule Santorum for suggesting certain behavioral connections from one type of behavior to another is to, well, criticize the messenger while doing nothing to confront the problems themselves.

I can't imagine where Santo... (Below threshold)

I can't imagine where Santorum gets these ideas.

It's not the liberal culture in Boston that created this hotbed of molestation and abuse: It's the Catholic priest's culture. NOT CATHOLICISM ITSELF...I'm saying specifically the culture that priests and the Church fostered *in Boston* among themselves.

It became a place where, for decades, you could get away with it and be protected. That has nothing to do with what happens outside the confines of the church. It was *ALL* about the culture they created for themselves.

That's my $0.02 anyway. And after typing that I realized -S- said it already, only with big words and all adult-y and stuff. Oh well. ;)

If one can be heterosexual ... (Below threshold)

If one can be heterosexual without acting upon it, then one can be homosexual without acting upon it as well. If desiring (but never engaging in) sexual relations with the opposite gender is not improper, then how is not engaging in sex with the same gender improper or a bar to entrance into a seminary? According to my reading of the Bible, it is the action that is the sin, not the thought. Am I wrong? The problem here is abuse first and foremost, and secondarily the violation of the vow of celebacy, which can also occur in a heterosexual context.

As the record $120 million settlement in Kentucky shows very clearly, this abuse can and does occur in areas where liberals are in the minority.

e_five, that low sales tax ... (Below threshold)

e_five, that low sales tax rate is just about the neatest thing they have going for them, but you're omitting the little fact that the have both sales and state income tax and some of the highest property taxes around. Taxachussetts is far from the tax haven you'd like to lead us to believe.

Hmmmm.I can only r... (Below threshold)


I can only repeat what a local Catholic priest told me during a discussion after dinner. I'm not Catholic but my friend is very devout.

Basically it seems that many seminaries are completely controlled by gays, who set the agenda. And it's the strange situation that straight men are actually discriminated against in these seminaries.

The problem is the hierarchy, there is a certain amount of fossilization and corruption. Neither are good but together they are catastrophic.

I'm afraid there are more scandals in the future of the Catholic Church. Without a complete housecleaning, one that Pope Benedict doesn't seem to be engaged in, the Church is going to have a very tough time.

Isn't there a prophecy that there are only two more popes before the Vatican is destroyed? Frankly I think that timing seems to be spot-on.

When I read the other post ... (Below threshold)

When I read the other post by pennywit I also thought that Sen. Santorum was wrong to say what he said; although I generally agree with the Sen. on matters of this genre. I contributed greatly to the other post, perhaps even helping to drive it off point in a debate with a fellow poster.

I have now read the troublesome editorial that Sen. Santorum wrote and find less to complain about. As I follow the controversy the media says Sen. Santorum said thus and such and he refuses to apologize, so he's an asshole. Here is the exact quote from the editorial:

"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."


As you can see from the entire paragraph the Sen. is saying that the culture is sick and then pointing to academia in Boston as the center of the liberalism that helped create the sickness. This is subtly different from claiming that Boston is the center of the illness. Describing Boston as "...a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America..." is not exactly pejorative. Listing all the good things about the city and state don't deflect the Senator's description; nor does the greatness of Boston and Mass. exonerate liberalism.

I'm sure that there are many that disagree with Sen. Santorum. I'm sure I disagree with him on many subjects (he's not my Sen. and I don't follow his career) but being in disagreement with someone is no reason to label them an asshole, a nazi, a talibanite or whatever.

Do you doubt that Boston is at least one of the epicenters of liberalism in America? Do you disagree with the Senator that liberalism is a cause of the social ills assailing our country? If so, make that point and leave the empty name calling to the other guys.

It is probably also worth n... (Below threshold)

It is probably also worth noting that Massachusetts is one of the few states where Catholics are located in great numbers, especially in the 60s and 70s. To say that it is because of the state's liberal attitudes is overlooking the much more obvious answer -- that's where the Catholic Priests (good & bad) are.

I'm basically in agreement ... (Below threshold)

I'm basically in agreement with what you have written but there is one thing that I wanted to bring up that always bothers me.

You said, "...instead joined an organization where sexuality of any kind was to be repressed."

I think it's pretty well established that repression is junk science. Supressed more likely, but not repressed.

Just as an example...

Those who have "repressed" memories tend to remember their fathers raping them, aliens kidnapping them and monsters of all sorts that had been hidden deep away in their skulls. However, other proved traumatic events (Like the holocaust) never get "repressed" just supressed. Those involved in the holocaust and in war can remember, but choose not to. They don't need to be hypnotised or treated by some nut job in order to remember, they just don't want to remember.

In conclusion, these desires were supressed (And they apparantly failed at that) and were not repressed.

Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine.

To rail (not you, but ot... (Below threshold)

To rail (not you, but others have) about people (like Santorum) who try to point out that sexual abuse (of many fashions) is committed by homosexuals (and some heterosexuals, but it's more common among those who ALSO engage in homosexual behaviors) is to blame the messenger.


Thanks for providing a perfect example of the ignorant, phobic audience Santorum's comments were meant for!

If he had more voters like you in Pennsylvania, he might have a chance at re-election.






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