The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement Regarding Boston Rebuke by Santorum


July 13, 2005

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis MO
National Director of SNAP 314 566 9790

Abusive clergy and complicit bishops are liberal and conservative. The crimes they commit have nothing to do with political philosophy. It is reckless and dangerous to misdiagnose the causes of this horrific crisis by trying to blame any group of individuals, especially using false assumptions and self-serving ideological blinders. This is a deeply-rooted, long-standing, cultural and structural problem within the church and affects Catholics across the globe. To suggest anything less is deceptive or ignorant.

It is very hurtful when a politician tries to minimize the extent of the clergy sex abuse scandal. It is also very hurtful when a politician implies that some vague, larger societal defects somehow caused priests, nuns and bishops to assault innocent children and vulnerable adults, and then to work hard at keeping the crimes hidden.

We commend the brave abuse survivors and their families in Massachusetts who played key roles in protecting the defenseless, exposing sexual predators, and uncovering deeply-held horrific evidence of cover ups by the church hierarchy.

We also applaud the caring Massachusetts Catholics who have patiently prodded the church hierarchy toward even piecemeal reforms.

In 2002, we gave Senator Santorum the benefit of the doubt, assuming he was not aware of the scope of the abuse crisis. In 2005, it's hard to understand how he could repeat and stand by such misguided and harmful comments.

For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP Founder and President (312) 399 4747 cell
Mark Serrano of Leasburg VA, SNAP Board Member (703) 727 4940 cell
Mary Grant of Long Beach CA, SNAP Board Member (626) 419 2930
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP Board Member (414) 429 7259 cell, (414) 963 8617

Santorum resolute on Boston rebuke

Insists liberalism set stage for abuse

By Susan Milligan, Boston Globe Staff | July 13, 2005

WASHINGTON -- 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.

''I was just saying that there's an attitude that is very open to sexual freedom that is more predominant" in Boston, Santorum said yesterday. Reminded that the sexual abuse occurred across the country, Santorum said that ''at the time [in 2002], there was an indication that there was more of a problem there" in Boston.

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.The senator faces an unexpectedly tough race for reelection next year. Pennsylvania state treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., the expected Democratic candidate, has been ahead or even with Santorum in recent polls, although Casey hasn't begun actively campaigning.

Casey, like Santorum, is antiabortion, and Democrats contend that the Pennsylvania contest offers one of their best chances to pick up a Senate seat next year.

Santorum, now 47, came to Washington as a House member in 1991 and joined a group of young, assertive conservatives bent on shaking up the institution. Elected to the Senate in 1994, he quickly moved up the Republican ranks. With his vocal stances against abortion, stem cell research, and the right-to-die movement, he has become a favorite of evangelicals, said Jon Delano, who is a political analyst at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

''He speaks exactly as he feels," Delano said. ''You either accept it or reject it. There's nothing disingenuous about Rick Santorum."

The Pennsylvania senator recently penned a book, ''It Takes a Family," that blasts two-income families, divorce, cohabitation before marriage, and other social trends he considers liberal ills.

The book, set to be released later this month, blames ''radical feminism" for encouraging women to work outside the home. ''In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might confess that both of them don't really need to or at least may not need to work as much as they do," Santorum wrote.

Jay Reiff, Casey's campaign manager, predicted that Santorum's outspokenness might get him into trouble with Pennsylvania voters.

''It's sort of being out of touch," Reiff said. ''For hundreds of thousands of families, the option of having a stay-at-home mother is not there from an economic standpoint. ''It's not because they are bad budgeters or are selfish."

But Santorum's comments about Boston, like some of his other stances, may play well with cultural conservatives in Pennsylvania, who appreciate Santorum's opposition to gay marriage and abortion, political observers said.

''I think he probably has written off Massachusetts," said Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican who is also a potential 2008 contender.

July 13, 2005 (202) 224-2633


Rick Santorum owes an immediate apology to the tragic, long-suffering victims of sexual abuse and their families in Boston, in Massachusetts, in Pennsylvania and around this country. His outrageous and offensive comments - which he had the indecency to repeat yesterday - blamed the people of Boston for the depraved behavior of sick individuals who stole the innocence of children in the most horrible way imaginable.

Senator Santorum has shown a deep and callous insensitivity to the victims and their suffering in an apparent attempt to score political points with some of the most extreme members of the fringe right wing of his Party. Boston bashing might be in vogue with some Republicans, but Rick Santorum's statements are beyond the pale.

Three years ago, Senator Santorum said "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." When given an opportunity to apologize yesterday, he refused and instead restated these outrageous statements. The people of Boston are to blame for the clergy sexual abuse? That statement is irresponsible, insensitive and inexcusable. Rick Santorum should join all Americans in celebrating the accomplishments of the people of Boston.

Apparently Senator Santorum has never heard of the enormous contributions of our universities and industries to our quality of life, our economic strength, and our national security.

Harvard and MIT have produced 98 Nobel laureates whose work has made an enormous difference to America's strength.

Their graduates contribute to industries, to government, to our communities throughout the nation and the world. In fact, only a quarter of MIT's graduates remain in New England.

Their research keeps our nation secure. The Pentagon, the CIA, the military, the Energy Department, the Veterans Administration, all turn to MIT and Harvard for the technologies and strategies to protect our nation from those who would hurt us.

And their research into cancer, children's health, housing, community development, and so many issues continues to make an enormous difference to the well-being and health of our children and families.

More than a dozen current U.S. Senators were educated in Boston. Senator Frist was trained as a heart surgeon at Harvard Medical School. Senator Dole went to Harvard Law. Senator Alexander went to Harvard's School of Government. Surely, my honorable colleagues wouldn't go to a school that is somehow contributing to the downfall of America? No. They went to a worldwide leading institution to prepare them for incredible careers of service and leadership.

Senator Santorum's self righteousness also fails to take into account the enormous amount of good will the people of Boston demonstrate for the less fortunate.

They started the Massachusetts Childhood Hunger Initiative, working with leaders in 20 low-income communities to end hunger among our children.

Boston's Children's Hospital has been ranked first in the nation every year for the past decade in its care and concern for sick children.

The quality of life for Boston and its families is rated third in America. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the nation.

Massachusetts ranks in the top ten states in the nation when it comes to addressing the needs of at risk and vulnerable children, including our efforts to address low birth weight babies, teen homicides, high school dropout rates, and other challenges to our children. Pennsylvania does not rank in the top ten.

Boston gave birth to America's liberty. The values that sparked our Revolution continue to inspire Bostonians today - love of freedom, dedication to country, and concern for our fellow citizens.

The men and women of Boston have served honorably in our armed forces. They have fought and died for our country, so that their children might live in freedom and opportunity.

The abuse of children is a horrible perversion and a tragic crime, and I am proud that the good people of Boston and Massachusetts were leaders in coming forward, shedding light and demanding accountability for this devastating violation of children. Sadly, the sexual abuse of children is a problem throughout the world, and it is not confined in any way to members of the clergy or to one city or one town. Every state in the country has reported child sexual abuse, including Pennsylvania.

On behalf of all of the victims of abuse and the people of Boston and Massachusetts, I ask that he retract his unfounded statements and apologize. I think the families of Massachusetts were hurt just as much by this terrible tragedy as the families of Pennsylvania. Abuse against children is not a liberal or conservative issue. It's a horrific and unspeakable tragedy. Sadly, it happens in every state of this great nation - red states and blue states, in the north and in the south, in big cities and small. The victims of child sexual abuse have suffered enough already, and Senator Santorum should stop making a bad and very tragic situation worse.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests