Folks, Catholic World News (CWN) and numerous other media outlets report that Father Robert Drinan (pictured right), a Jesuit priest and lawyer who defied directives from Rome to serve for a decade in the US Congress, died yesterday at the age of 86.
Fr. Drinan many accomplishments include filing the bill to impeach President Richard Nixon in 1973—although years later he would argue strenuously against the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. In the late 1990's, Fr. Drinan scandalized the Catholic world when he supported President Clinton's veto of the Partial Abortion bill, arguing that the brutal "dilation and extraction" method is sometimes medically necessary. CWN also reports Drinan "demanded that Congress include an exception to allow the use of the partial-birth procedure if a doctor deemed it necessary to preserve the "health" of the mother--a vague phrase which pro-lifers long ago realized could be used to justify practically any abortion." The largest anti-abortion organization in the US, the National Right to Life Committee, has documented Drinan's virtually perfect pro-abortion voting record and the way in which his votes were used by other legislators to justify their own support of the practice. A fundraising letter mailed during Fr. Drinan's last congressional run by the National Abortion Rights Action League, denounced the pro-life movement in the strongest terms and cited Drinan as a friend whose re-election to Congress was essential to the abortion cause.
CWN has reprinted a detailed exposé written by Mr. James Hitchcock in 1996, back then a historian at St. Louis University, and a founder of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, in which he examined the thread of obfuscation, disingenuousness, and purposeful misunderstanding that enabled Fr. Drinan to tenuously justify his partisan election run and his dissent from his superiors.
According to Mr. Hitchcock, Fr. Drinan’s "departure from Congress hardly marked his departure from politics, as in due course he became president of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and remained politically involved in other ways. His partisanship became increasingly shrill during the l980s, as he accused the administration of President Ronald Reagan of destroying American liberties and made strong personal attacks on the President’s character. He also became increasingly vituperative in his criticisms of the pro-life movement, and as head of the ADA sent out a fundraising letter specifically urging the moral necessity of electing pro-abortion candidates to Congress."
Mr. Hitchcock wryly observed that "…progressive-minded Jesuits always hailed Pedro Arrupe as an enlightened man who was leading the Society precisely in these new directions. But as the Drinan case shows, even he could be ignored or defied when he did not live up to the expectations of the people he was supposed to be leading. Thus in making it possible for Drinan to run for Congress, his local superiors were also weakening the authority of the Jesuit General, a result which may have been more than merely incidental." Mr. Hitchcock concluded:
In l970 abortion had not yet become a partisan issue; there were many prominent pro-life Democrats. However, as the party moved toward an implacably pro-abortion position, and the number of pro-life Democrats steadily dwindled, Drinan's example was consistently cited as justification. How could any layman--especially one who was not a Catholic--be faulted for supporting abortion if the most prominent Catholic priest in public life did the same? Drinan bore heavy responsibility for making the Democratic Party the party of abortion. And he himself has come a long way down the same road, so that in 1996 he can dismiss opposition to late-term abortions--which he once characterized as homicide--as a merely partisan Republican trick.These were, in my opinion, Fr. Drinan's real lifetime achievements:
In conclusion: Fr. Drinan's achievements rest upon the bodies of millions of aborted babies sacrificed over the altar of his peculiar understanding of "social justice." His legacy consists of the thousands of politicians whose consciences he absolved through his words and example, and who continue to do the devil's work in our halls of government.
Fr. Drinan was a pro-abortion priest whose support of the abortion cause whitewashed the consciences of numerous fellow "progressive" Catholic and Christian members of Congress and beyond, at all levels of public life. Fr. Drinan's purported moral authority and penchant for nuance and pseudo-theological subterfuge, gave an aura of respectability to the pro-abortion stance and plenty of cover to many Catholic politicians. Furthermore, Fr. Drinan emboldened the wing of the Society of Jesus that equated the preaching of the Gospel with the pursuit of political activism and of social justice so-called; these priests, in turn, openly challenged and ridiculed bishops and cardinals critical of the direction of the order and of Jesuit political activism that ended in their open insubordination to legitimate authority. A few of these priests continue to this day to dissent with the Church in matters of abortion, priestly celibacy, homosexuality, and liberation theology, thanks in part to the space Fr. Drinan opened up for them. Fr. Drinan's fudging, intrigue, maneuvering, cajoling, and half-promises, undermined the authority of the Jesuit Father General and brought the religious order founded by St. Ignatius Loyola into a state of disrepute not seen since the — unwarranted — suppression of said order back in the 18th century. I think that Fr. Drinan's deeds were partly to blame for the unprecedented papal intervention into Jesuit elections right around the time Fr. Drinan left Congress by order of Pope John Paul II.
Fr. Robert Drinan, called to account before the Lord yesterday, at age 86.
- Read Father Drinan, lawmaker who defied Rome, dead at 86 and The Strange Political Career of Father Drinan at Catholic World News
- Read Father Drinan's article in the Wikipedia.
- Read also the Society of Jesus' Wikipedia entry.