This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 19, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The controversy over remarks by Senator Rick Santorum linking the liberalism of Boston, Massachusetts, to the priest pedophilia scandal there.
Joining us now from Washington is Senator Santorum.
Well, we're happy to have you on the program to explain your remarks. I'm just going to read one paragraph. This is the most controversial.
Out of the Fishers of Men, which is a Catholic online magazine, and you said, quote, "Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. 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."
Now, what say you? The reaction, especially from Massachusetts, was frenzied, let's say.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, let's say political. That article was written over three years ago. And, at the time, actually no one called me on it from Boston or, candidly, anywhere else.
O'REILLY: But they didn't know about it, did they?
SANTORUM: Well, any more than they know about it now. I mean, it was not like it was a covert...
O'REILLY: No, but the Boston Globe (search) wanted to get you. And they dug this out. And they splattered it all over...
SANTORUM: The Democratic Senatorial Committee (search) wanted to get me, but that's another story.
Let me try just to explain. And that is, what I'm saying is actually said probably better and more articulately by the Bennett report. And the Bennett report, for those who don't remember back at that time, was, as you know, the Catholic bishops put a commission together to investigate the scandal and to come up with some recommendations and conclusions. And the person who was the lead on that was Robert Bennett (search).
Robert Bennett, a known Democrat — not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination — wrote this report.
Let me quote from you one sentence from this report and see if it has a familiar ring to what you just read. Quote, "The apparent significant increase in actual sexual abuse of minors by priests in the 1960s and '70s cannot be viewed without acknowledging significant changes in sexual behavior in the culture at large during the same period of time.”
That's what Robert Bennett said. That's basically what I said...
O'REILLY: All right.
SANTORUM: ... which is, the changes in the culture, the effect of cultural liberalism and the sexual freedom in the 1960s and 1970s, had an impact. And that's what I was saying.
I was not criticizing Boston any more than you can put it in any other name, any other...
O'REILLY: Well, you were in the sense that you said that Boston was a hotbed of this sexual revolution. And, indeed, it was. I was in college in Boston. And, look: There's no doubt that that's a liberal town. It's more sexually progressive than, say, Birmingham, Alabama.
But here's my question: Look, these guys that committed these horrible crimes in the Catholic Church, they were hired by the Church — and I use the word "hired" because they do get paid a salary — to be a stonewall against, you know, sexual excess.
So, you know, I ...
O'REILLY: I don't see the influence that society would have on these people.
SANTORUM: Well, look, the influence of society has an influence on all of us. That's the point I was making.
But if you read the first few sentences of my article, I'm very tough on the Catholic Church. And, in fact, I was very tough on the Catholic Church (search) throughout this period of time. I was very outspoken with this particular piece, but with a lot of other things that I wrote and did, in meetings that I had with bishops all over the country, cardinals all over the country, with members of the review board, from Governor Keating on down.
This was a major concern to me. This was something that was just tearing me apart that the Church was not top of this.
O'REILLY: Look, I understand that. I just don't know whether the linkage between a sexually permissive society, which we absolutely have here in America, and a crime of child molestation — I don't know if you can make that linkage.
SANTORUM: I think it's a legitimate debate. You may disagree with me, and I respect you disagreeing with me. But I think when you say to someone that morality and sexual activity is a private affair and you can do whatever you want in the privacy in your own home, people, you know, tend to think differently...
O'REILLY: There's a difference between consenting adults doing whatever they want and you committing a crime of battery against a child.
SANTORUM: Again, I'm not justifying, at all, this behavior. And I said that in my book. That's not to justify it.
O'REILLY: I don't know the linkage there.
SANTORUM: Well, I would just...
O'REILLY: Look, many of the Woodstock generation — I'm a little older than you, I guess — were libertines, but they never committed crimes against children or any kinds of rapes or anything like that.
And also, Cardinal Law (search) and Mahoney and these enablers, these are the most conservative guys in town. I mean, I don't think they were influenced by any permissive society. Do you?
SANTORUM: I'm not suggesting that Cardinal Law was. What I'm suggesting is that the people who were brought into the priesthood who should not have been brought into the priesthood, that was a big problem in the Church at that time.
O'REILLY: Their psychological testing was ridiculous.
I got to ask you one more question about this Traynham guy, who's your chief of staff — right — or your press guy?
SANTORUM: He's my communications director.
O'REILLY: OK. Now he came out and said he was gay, I guess last week.
SANTORUM: He didn't come out and say he was gay. He was outed by some blogs and then outed further by the Philadelphia Inquirer (search).
O'REILLY: All right. Now, does that put him and you in a difficult position because...
SANTORUM: Absolutely not. Robert is a very good employee. He has been with me for eight years. He will be with me as long as he wants to keep this job. He's my communications director. He's a senior person. He's someone who doesn't...
O'REILLY: Is he against gay marriage like you are?
SANTORUM: You would have to ask him that, but to my knowledge, yes, he is.
O'REILLY: But if he wasn't, could he still work for you?
SANTORUM: Sure. I mean, there are a lot of people who disagree with me on issues. But his job — and he knows that job — is to represent me on how I feel about things. That's what a communications director does. If he doesn't feel like can do that, then, you know, he moves on and does another job.
But he has been able to do that for me for eight years and does it very effectively.
O'REILLY: All right. Well, good.
I'm glad you came on, Senator, to clarify your remarks. Now everybody knows how you feel and they can make their judgment about whether you're right or wrong. That's the way we should always do it, Senator.
SANTORUM: Very good.
O'REILLY: So we're real happy that you came on. Thanks for your time.
SANTORUM: Thank you, Bill.
Continuing now with our lead story, social liberalism vis-à-vis the priest pedophilia scandal.
Joining us from Washington, Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts who called Senator Santorum a jerk.
Why did you do that? I mean you — don't do that.
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I don't like to waste words, Bill. And I think there is too much bloviating around from politicians. It seems to me that politicians ought to use the same words as other people.
O'REILLY: I know. But he just made a fairly articulate argument. You may disagree with it.
FRANK: That's not the argument about which I called him a jerk. I was talking about his earlier comments which I thought frankly were, to use a word, jerky.
O'REILLY: Which were?
FRANK: Well, he is simply factually wrong — flat out factually wrong. And the Bennett report does not support him in saying that, quote, "Boston was the center of the storm of priest abuse of children."
That's simply wrong. His whole premise, his whole explanation is based on something wildly wrong.
Secondly, you have this notion — his press secretary whom you alluded to, on his behalf, said — he says he speaks for him. He said, well, it's an open secret that you have Harvard (search) and MIT (search) in Boston.
I've got to be honest with you: We didn't think it was a secret. I mean, they didn't go around in hiding.
And the notion that MIT somehow was responsible for the Church abuse is just wrong.
O'REILLY: All right, but look...
FRANK: Finally, there is one other fundamental issue here. He denounces moral relativism.
The greatest moral relativism, frankly, is what Senator Santorum is engaging in. And you hit on it and I agree with what seemed to be the point of your question.
I think there was an absolute, deep gap between consensual relations between adults, which people may like or dislike, and people who physically impose themselves on children or misuse their authority to impose on children.
O'REILLY: All right. But look...
FRANK: How can you equate those two?
O'REILLY: A couple of things. Massachusetts had a higher ratio of priest pedophilia than any other state in the nation. So his remarks directed at Massachusetts were relevant.
Secondly, you know and I know...
FRANK: No, that's wrong.
O'REILLY: Well, it's not wrong. Our research shows that, per capita, 7 percent of the priests were involved in some kind of...
FRANK: And what was the average, Bill? The fact that...
O'REILLY: About 4 percent. So it's 3 percent higher.
FRANK: And what states were close? Covington, Kentucky.
I mean, this notion — those are not statistically significant differences. Boston was not the center.
O'REILLY: All right. But all I am telling you is this was the epicenter of a huge scandal...
FRANK: No, that's simply wrong. Boston was not the epicenter.
O'REILLY: Yes, it was.
FRANK: It was worldwide, by the way. It happened in Iowa. It happened in Canada. This is a worldwide phenomenon.
O'REILLY: It was the Boston archdiocese and they wouldn't have removed Cardinal Law if it wasn't the epicenter. Mahoney just escaped with his butt...
FRANK: No, that's wrong...
O'REILLY: ... out there in L.A.
FRANK: They removed Cardinal Law — you're misusing, I think, being unfair to the Church. In other words you're saying they wouldn't remove somebody who'd been badly misbehaving unless he was the single worst. I think...
O'REILLY: He is the worst.
FRANK: Other people...
O'REILLY: Law was the worst by far — by far he was the worst.
FRANK: Right. But not because of the volume of the abuses, but because he was...
O'REILLY: We'll send you the documentation. It's higher in the Boston archdiocese than in any other place.
FRANK: But not by any significant statistical amount.
FRANK: This notion that Boston was the epicenter...
O'REILLY: Splitting hairs. Splitting hairs.
FRANK: Let me ask you this, Bill: What percentage of total sexual abuse by priests occurred in Boston?
O'REILLY: I think it was 7 percent.
FRANK: Seven percent of the total in the whole world?
O'REILLY: No. I don't know the total in the whole world. Nobody knows that.
FRANK: You know that's not true. It was a small percentage.
O'REILLY: All right. OK.
FRANK: And that's...
O'REILLY: Now, you and I have both spent — you're from there and I was educated and worked in Boston. It’s a liberal, social town.
FRANK: It is.
O'REILLY: It is, so let's just start there.
Now, you disagree that the permissive society, the sexual revolution of the '60s and '70s in which the senator was referring had anything to do with priest pedophilia. You don't think it had anything to do with it?
FRANK: No, I do not, mainly because there is no scientific correlation drawn. There were places where there was no social liberalism where it happened. There were places, which were quite socially liberal, Berkeley, California, and elsewhere, where it didn't seem to be a big issue.
I think there is a fundamental distinction. And this is where I disagree very much with Senator Santorum's whole approach to this. He constantly equates consensual sexual behavior between adults with bestiality, with child abuse. I think that's a fundamental difference.
And you talk about moral relativism. What could be more morally relative than to deny this very fundamental distinction?
O'REILLY: I don't see it as harshly as you do. I think what his point is that if you have a society that accepts behavior that was unacceptable, say, 30 years ago, it makes it easier for people to rationalize these kinds of things. I think that's his point. Now I don't agree with it.
FRANK: No, that's not his point. He compares — he says physical intimacy between two women or two men is like man on dog. That's what he gave in the interview with this woman from the A.P. You're trying to clean up his act.
O'REILLY: I don't know. I have never heard him say that. And I have to hear him say that.
FRANK: I will read you the quote.
O'REILLY: You're reading me the A.P. I mean, so what? The A.P. says stuff about me all the time that is not true.
FRANK: No, but, he does not deny it. He affirms that he said this. Bill, you're giving more of a — to use a phrase that's might be appropriate here, you're being more Catholic than the pope. The fact is that Santorum has acknowledged saying this. He says it's not man on child, man on dog.
O'REILLY: He just said, though — he just said that his press guy, who has now been defined as a homosexual, he's fine, no problem with him.
FRANK: He wasn't being honest with you. Because here is what he said about this: I have no problem with homosexuality; I have a problem with homosexual acts.
So if his press secretary...
O'REILLY: But he didn't fire the guy. The guy is still working for him. Actions speak louder than words from the Associated Press.
FRANK: Right. Hypocrisy speaks very loudly.
O'REILLY: What he — be careful. Be careful with that.
FRANK: The fact is, by his own definition, unless this man is totally celibate, he is guilty of things that are akin to bestiality.
O'REILLY: He just said on this broadcast in front of millions of people that he had no problem; private conduct is private conduct; he will work for him as long as he does his job.
FRANK: No, no. He did not say that. He did not say that. He says he has a problem. I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual...
O'REILLY: On this broadcast he just said that, Congressman. And he stated on...
FRANK: And I'm reading what he said in public, what he said in his interview when he was reaffirmed...
O'REILLY: We have a primary source versus a secondary source.
FRANK: No, it's not a secondary source.
Bill, you're trying to cover up for him.
O'REILLY: I'm not trying to cover up for him. I'm just saying I don't believe everything I read in the press.
FRANK: How about I speak for a little while without being interrupted? Is that part of the...
O'REILLY: Wrap it up for us.
FRANK: The fact is that he has said, when he criticized — here's the deal: He was very critical when the United States Supreme Court (search) said that it should not be a crime for two adults to have consenting sex in private, he denounced that. He said that was (inaudible) to the equivalency of man- on-dog. He was very clear that opposes — and he says that he opposes private sexual intimacy between two individuals...
O'REILLY: Maybe the senator is evolving, because he's not going to fire his guy that is gay. And he's sticking by him.
FRANK: I can't see you, because I'm not in the studio, but did you have a straight face when you said that?
O'REILLY: A little bit.
FRANK: The senator is evolving?
O'REILLY: A little bit.
FRANK: Do you think he wants you to defend him by saying he's evolving?
O'REILLY: Hey, listen, he came on this program. He said what he said. I'm not going to call him a liar or a hypocrite.
FRANK: No, I'll call him a hypocrite, because he was embarrassed...
O'REILLY: That's what you do. I'm not going to do that.
FRANK: ... by the fact he's got a press secretary who has acknowledged being one of these terrible people.
O'REILLY: Well, he didn't seem to be embarrassed. He seemed to be loyal to the guy.
Hey, Congressman, we appreciate your point of view, as always. Thank you for coming on.
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