In Sanctum Santorum

By Brian McGrory
Boston Globe [Boston MA]
July 12, 2005

Today, I'd like to take a few moments to express profound thanks to Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the third-ranking Republican in the US Senate. In fact, all Bostonians should thank him for sharing his incredible wisdom and insight about this city and its depraved ways.

Specifically, here's what Santorum wrote about the church pedophile scandal on a religious website called Catholic Online. "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."

So thank you, senator, for setting us straight about the problems with the clergy. Thank you for letting us know that all those pedophilic priests and the church leaders who covered up their crimes are the fault of every Bostonian.

Who knew that the president of Harvard, the people at the Museum of Science, and Mayor Thomas M. Menino were to blame for Cardinal Bernard F. Law's decision to move predatory priests from one parish to another? Here's who knew: Senator Rick Santorum.

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."

Good answer. Then I called Menino, who groaned. "Typical of the guy who doesn't understand the issue, doesn't understand the Catholicism. He should come up to Boston and see what it's all about. Maybe we'll send a welcome wagon to get him."

Please don't, mayor. Please don't. You're talking about a senator who intruded on Terri Schiavo's deathbed, and, after she died of what an autopsy determined was an atrophied brain that sent her into a permanent vegetative state, said she had been "executed."

He talked about "man on dog" sex in once explaining to a reporter his opposition to homosexuality. He told The New York Times that gay marriage "absolutely" threatens his own marriage.

Poor Orrin Hatch, John McCain, and Chuck Hagel, all thoughtful Republican senators who are tainted by Santorum's mere presence.

What would he find up here, anyway? He'd find one of the most Catholic cities in the country.

He'd find academic institutions that are the intellectual engine of the nation, schools, by the way, that have churned out plenty of Republican leaders, George W. Bush among them.

And he'd find a city that is pretty much the birthplace of civil political discourse, a concept that Santorum essentially violates every time he opens his mouth.