Rick Santorum and Bishop Steinbock: "Secular" Society Is to Blame for Rampant Clergy Sexual Abuse

By Paul Kiesel
Injury Board
March 20, 2009

These two guys, former Republican senator Rick Santorum and Bishop John T. Steinbock, claim that society, in particular secular or liberal society, is to blame for all of the "recent" sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church.

Wrong. Their logic is wrong. Their interpretation and understanding of Catholic Church history is completely wrong: These sex abuse scandals are not a "recent" problem, in fact, sexual abuse in and of itself is tied to the origins of the Catholic Church. But before we get to that, let's look at their disgusting comments and mistruths first:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s move on to another controversy you stirred up, the question of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church. You made a statement in July 2002 which has drawn a lot of fire. You said, in a publication called Catholic On-Line, When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While there’s 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.

You’ve reaffirmed that just a couple of weeks ago. Ted Kennedy, John Kerry say you have to apologize. Mitt Romney, Republican governor, says basically you don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you still stand by that statement?

SANTORUM: Look, the statement I made was that the culture influences people’s behavior. I don’t think anyone…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn’t that what conservatives used to say about liberals, when they used to say they were trying to excuse criminals?

SANTORUM: I think what I’m saying is that the culture of liberal sexual freedom and the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s had a profound impact on everybody and their sexual mores. It had a profound impact on the church.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you singled out Boston in…

SANTORUM: I singled out Boston in 2002. In July of 2002, that was the epicenter. We did not know…

(And clearly this guy still doesn't know what's going on within his church and what's been going on within his church for centuries, but more on that in a second.)

Bishop John T. Steinbock addressing sexual abuse within the Fresno Diocese to Central California Catholic Life, in a 2004 letter

[. . .] Society itself simply did not understand the grave harm to children caused by sexual abuse nor know how to respond to child abuse. In fact it was rarely spoken about publicly, and this is true not only in the church but in all of society. Since the mid 1980’s, some bishops may have failed to respond in a way we now know is appropriate, usually out of ignorance of the grave harm caused by child abuse, but most bishops took immediate action when news of an abused child came to their attention [. . .]

[. . .] The way society has understood child abuse and responded to child abuse has evolved over the years. Only in the early 1980’s did society as a whole begin to become aware of the scope of the problem, and begin to speak publicly of it. The bishops began to take action in the mid 1980’s, as they also grew in this societal awareness of the problem. Most bishops did their best to protect children. If a priest was known to have a problem with minors, he would be sent to a program for therapy, directed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist, and only put back into ministry when there was a professional opinion by a psychiatrist or psychologist that there was little risk by that individual of being a danger to children. Often that priest would be put into a ministry where he would not be in direct contact with children.

Are These Guys Serious?

1. They've assumed all people who hold "liberal" values are not religious. I don't need to start naming names, but anybody reading this could list off a dozen names of friends who are politically or socially liberal and who are also theistic.

2. I would dare either one of them to write one of the many definitions of the word "liberal" or "secular" in the comment section of this blog, without referencing a dictionary, and see if either men come close to the correct definition(s) of the two words.

3. Santorum is apparently an intellectual lightweight and it shows in his interview with Mr. Stephanopoulos and Steinbock is lying: Swearingen, a man who was found guilty of molesting a young boy (9-3) by a jury of his peers, is currently in direct contact with children.

Below is an example of how dead wrong both Santorum and Steinbock are in their belief that society is to blame for the "recent" rampant sexual abuse of minors by Catholic Clergymen:

One Richalmus, abbot of Schonthal, around 1270 penned an entire treatise on demons [the church would use demons during the Middle Ages as a reason or source for the growing frequency of sexual transgressions committed against women and children], rich in first-hand experience: He sees (but only when his eyes are shut) countless malevolent demons, like motes of dust, buzzing around his head -- and everyone else's. Despite successive waves of rationalist, Persian, Jewish, Christian, and Moslem (sic) world views, despite revolutionary social, political, and philosophical ferment, the existence, much of the character, and even the name of demons remained unchanged from Hesiod through the Crusades.

Demons, the "powers of the air," come down from the skies and have unlawful sexual congress with women. Augustine believed that witches were the offspring of these forbidden unions. In the Middle Ages, as in classical antiquity, nearly everyone believed such stories. The demons were also called devils, or fallen angels. The demonic seducers of women were labeled incubi; of men, succubi. There are cases in which nuns reported, in some befuddlement, a striking resemblance between the incubus and the priest- confessor, or the bishop, and awoke the next morning, as one fifteenth-century chronicler put it, to "find themselves polluted just as if they had commingled with a man." There are similar accounts, but in harems not convents, in ancient China. So many women reported incubi, argued the Presbyterian religious writer Richard Baxter (in his Certainty of the World of Spirits, in 1691), "that 'tis impudence to deny it."

Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World" (1997)

The evidence (most of which is too voluminous to relate and would bore you even further if I listed it all within this blog) shows that it's not society's fault for the Catholic Church's inability to protect children and women, but the Church's fault.

However, I'm certain that Santorum and Steinbock would have the impudence to deny any and all of the evidence that contradicts their ignorant beliefs.


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