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Senator Santorum equates ideology with morality, and demonstrates how far some Republicans will go to exploit our Church

Catholic Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, responding to questions from a reporter, repeated remarks he made three years ago attacking the people of Boston, and its universities in particular, for a supposed role in the national child abuse crisis that came to wide attention in 2002. A fellow Catholic, Senator Edward Kennedy, responded on the floor of the Senate by stating the obvious, namely that the aggressiveness of the people of Massachusetts in responding to this problem was, if anything, a tribute to their moral rectitude.

Senator Santorum responded to these remarks somewhat immaturely, saying, "I am for proper formation, something I would challenge Sen. Kennedy to be for. Proper orthodox formation within the teachings of the Vatican. I don't think Sen. Kennedy would follow that very closely." Ignoring what Senator Kennedy had actually said, Mr. Santorum added, "I don't think Ted Kennedy lecturing me on the teachings of the church and how the church should handle these problems is something I'm going to take particularly seriously."

The sum total of Senator Santorum's claim to fealty to the Vatican lies in his repeated assertion that overturning Roe v. Wade is the only moral response to abortion. Few people yet realize how demonstrably false this assertion is, given that the national abortion rate has now declined (primarily during the Clinton Administration) to levels at or below those prevalent prior to the Roe v. Wade decision. On virtually every other issue that has been addressed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Senator Santorum is hostile to Catholic teaching--on the death penalty, on our obligation to care for the sick, on the war in Iraq, on world poverty, and on the subject of personal greed in American tax policy. Senator Kennedy, in contrast, has been a lifelong champion on behalf of Catholics and all Americans with regard to these crucial life issues.

Below are Senator Kennedy's remarks in response to the comments of Senator Santorum and his spokesman:

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.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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