Thursday, July 14, 2005
This just in: Cardinal Law was too liberal.
The Very Rev. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) makes a number of astonishing claims in his column for Catholic Online this week. [Ed. note: Er, this week three years ago. More below.] Most astonishing is this vile paragraph — Santorum's explanation of the root cause of the clergy sexual abuse scandal in his church:
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.
Ya know, it had never occurred to me that Cardinal Bernard Law might have kept on shuffling child-abusing priests from parish to parish, ignoring the appeals for help from parents, other laypeople, and alarmed priests and nuns, because he was too liberal. Nor had it occurred to me that the reason the so-called liberal churches you're so apt to find in Massachusetts — those goin'-to-hell gay-friendly pseudochurches the Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and Unitarian Universalists, for example — have seen much less clergy sexual abuse is (are you ready for this? I know it's gonna sound really hard to believe): They must be less infested with the relativism and moral decay of society than the Catholic Church. Wow. Who knew? But now that the Catechist of Pennsylvania has explained it to me, it must be so.
And yet, having gone to Harvard Divinity School myself, I feel a shadow of doubt in my Cantabrigian mind. Our so-called liberal clergy go directly to Harvard, seat of the relativisticalidocious Prince of Darkness himself, rather than waiting to have our relativism and moral decay watered down by a bunch of Jesuits at Boston College. You'd think we'd be abusing kids at a pace that would make even Cardinal Law blush. And yet, strangely, it's not so. I wonder if there's not still an explanation that is somehow specific to the Catholic Church rather than to the moral breakdown here in Boston.
Now, I know that "moral relativism" is the explanation du jour for conservative Catholics — a phrase that makes a person sound National Review-smart while pointing precisely to nothing at all. It's bluster, the sound of intellectual desperation. When the beam in your own eye starts to itch, Senator Santorum, blame the culture. As you know better than anyone, it's the "liberal" thing to do.
("Fishers of Men," Rick Santorum, Catholic Online 7.12.
Update: Strange: Three different people told me about this column yesterday afternoon, which strongly planted the idea that this was a breaking story. When I found the column this morning via Google and saw — on the front page of the City/Region section in today's Boston Globe — that Ted Kennedy denounced it yesterday from the Senate floor, I didn't register that the "July 12" publication date for Santorum's column was back in 2002. Why the buzz now?
Brian McGrory reminded Bostonians of Santorum's keen insights on the third anniversary of the senator's perspicacity — but I was busy celebrating my own wedding anniversary and missed it. McGrory wrote:
Santorum's words about Boston, though written in 2002, weren't highlighted until the last couple of weeks, when a Philadelphia Daily News columnist, John Baer, raised them in print and prompted a running political discourse in the blogosphere. Perhaps so many imbecilic statements flow from Santorum's mouth and pen that this one was initially overlooked.
So I asked a Santorum spokesman whether the senator still believed what he said about Boston. I mean, guilt might be our greatest natural resource, but do we really have to fall on our collective sword over wayward priests?
"It's an open secret that you have Harvard University and MIT that tend to tilt to the left in terms of academic biases," said Robert Traynham, the Santorum aide. "I think that's what the senator was speaking to."
Of course. The whole thing is MIT's fault. Why didn't we realize this sooner? Maybe the Globe should give its Pulitzer Prize back because it failed to get to the root cause of the scandal: Cambridge-based rocket science professors.
I asked Mitt Romney about this. He's starting to hang out in this crowd, raising money for a conservative political action committee in Washington just last night.
His spokeswoman, Julie Teer, called back and said: "What happened with the church sex abuse scandal was a tragedy, but it had nothing to do with geography or the culture of Boston. What we know now is that the sex abuse was occurring around the country and around the world. Boston was just the first to find out about it."
And why was Boston the first to find about it? I have a word for you, Mr Santorum: Liberalism, which means people asking questions and eager to know the truth.
Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 14 July 2005 at 7:55 AM