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Sancta Santorum

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Rick Santorum loves America, lobbyists’ cheques, sweater vests and his seven children. An eighth, Gabriel, was stillborn at 20 weeks in 1996. When staff from the morgue arrived, the Santorums refused to give up the foetal corpse. That night they slept with it between them in the hospital bed, and the next day took it home so that their children could snuggle with it before a funeral. Since his surprise near-victory in Iowa, the candidate’s supporters have lashed out at journalists who’ve revisited this story, but it was Karen Santorum who publicised it first. ‘Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!’ she wrote in Letters to Gabriel (1998). She describes giving the corpse to their eldest daughter, then five years old, to hold. ‘This is my baby brother, Gabriel,’ she said. ‘He is an angel.’ The book has a foreword from Mother Teresa.

It’s not for us to judge the actions of the Santorums. Unfortunately, judging other people’s most private behaviour is how Rick Santorum has made his name over the past two decades. Catholics, once a solid Democratic bloc and later more conservative, have quietly moved back to the left in America. Most Catholics believe in the realities of global warming and evolution, which Santorum does not. Catholics are significantly more likely than evangelicals to support abortion rights. And fully 74 per cent of Catholics now support same-sex marriage or civil unions, putting their support higher than that of any other Christian denomination. But Santorum does not only oppose gay marriage (‘Why not three people? Why not ten people?’), he also opposes gays in the military (‘People are chosen based on who will make us the best fighting force in the world, and I don’t think that includes those who are openly homosexual’) and gay adoption (‘Even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all’). He also notoriously compared gay sex with ‘man-on-child, man-on-dog’ intercourse.

After Iowa, the comedian Garry Shandling joked that Santorum is ‘so homophobic that I’m surprised he even allows another man to vote for him’. But the senator would probably bridle at the label. Apparently nobody hates gay people as such any more, not even Santorum, who told a debate moderator last weekend – there were two debates in less than 10 hours – that if one of his sons came out he would love him all the same. (The moderator didn’t ask if the same held true for his daughters.) I can’t say, however, that I would relish being taken home on the arm of Richard Santorum Jr one Thanksgiving in some queer version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

Comments on “Sancta Santorum”

  1. Phil Edwards says:

    I’m appalled by this article. It’s not for us to judge the actions of the Santora, surely.

    • outofdate says:

      But it’s easy, predictable and exercises no part of the brain. Nothing to do with books and London reviews thereof, admittedly, but why bother with them when we could be ferociously agreeing with one another about some no-hoper in the ‘race’ for losing candidate in a pre-determined election thousands of miles away?

    • Bob Beck says:

      Was this blog post a pendant trap? I’m out of practice at recognizing them.

  2. David says:

    Is a pendant trap anything to do with a hanging chad?

  3. paduli says:

    Apparently, Mr. Farago has a big problem with Catholics in public and political life (or at least, those Catholics who believe what the Church teaches). He also a problem with the facts: neither Mr. Sanctorum nor the Catholic Church has any problem recognizing the role of evolution in the development of life on earth. After all, we believe that the same God is source of all truth, whether of a natural or supernatural nature. As for judging people’s private behavior, I would submit that every politician does that in some fashion or another; after all, the determination of public policy necessarily involves the application of ethical principles to our common life together. If Mr. Farago believes that the procreation and rearing of children is merely “private behavior” without any effect on society at large, he is naive in addition to being prejudiced against faithful Catholics.

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