July 14, 2005

Santorum's slur

Boston Globe

July 14, 2005

SENATOR RICK Santorum can't be serious when he says that localized liberalism has something to do with the sexual abuse scandal that convulsed the Archdiocese of Boston. But he repeated his three-year-old calumny this week, so a few facts are in order.

It's true that the percentage of priests implicated in sexual abuse cases since 1950 was higher in Boston than in any other US diocese. That 7 percent figure, reported by the archdiocese, significantly exceeded the national average of 4 percent. This figure comes from a study commissioned by theAbuse Tracker Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, an arm of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

There's an attitude in Boston ''that is very open to sexual freedom," Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, said this week.

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, theAbuse Tracker 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.

Posted by kshaw at July 14, 2005 08:21 AM