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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Father Drinan Rest in Peace

Priest, scholar, congressman, professor, and alumnus Robert Drinan passed at the age of 86. He served 5 terms in Congress; was dean of Boston College's law school; and taught at Georgetown for over a quarter of a century. I wonder if Georgetown knew this might come when it founded the Drinan Chair in Human Rights last year.

Unfortunately, I never got to take a class from him. But I did get to speak with him on several occassions and he was a lovely person. I'm sure Georgetown will do something to honor him. This is a big loss for the community; following on the heels of Sam Dash passing away it feels like an era is ending.

Update: Georgetown has put up a website for students, alumni, friends and faculty to share their memories of Father Drinan. Nancy Pelosi also issued a statement honoring him. This also links to excellent pieces in the Post and Globe discussing his legacy.


IPB said...

I never took a Drinan class, but if the experience was anything like Dash, I should have.


Jester of Magellan said...

I do not wish to speak ill of the recently departed. I believe that Fr. Drinan was a well-intentioned man of God who strived to act in a conscientious way in all that he did. As such, I pray that his time in Purgatory will be short, and that he will find his way home to his Lord and Savior in short order.

Nonetheless, I feel compelled, in the interest of even-handed reporting, to post the following piece on Fr. Drinan's death from Catholic World News.

Father Drinan, lawmaker who defied Rome, dead at 86

Washington, DC, Jan. 29, 2007 ( - Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit priest and lawyer who defied directives from Rome to serve for a decade in the US Congress, died on Sunday, January 28, at the age of 86.

The combative Jesuit had been a lightning-rod for controversy throughout his political career. He came to Washington as an outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam; later he became one of the most reliable votes in Congress in favor of unrestricted legal abortion.

His advocacy of legal abortion continued long after his tenure in Congress. In 1996 the priest-politician shocked many Catholics by praising President Bill Clinton for his veto of legislation banning partial-birth abortion.

A partisan Democratic legislator, Father Drinan filed the bill to impeach President Richard Nixon in 1973. Years later he would argue strenuously against the impeachment of President Clinton. After leaving Congress he became the president of the liberal political bloc, Americans for Democratic Action.

Father Drinan, who served as a Congressman from Massachusetts from 1971 to 1980, died of congestive heart failure at Sibley Hospital in Washington. He had lived in Washington, teaching at Georgetown and continuing his active involvement in liberal political causes, after relinquishing his seat in Congress.

In 1970 Father Drinan made his first run for Congress despite the explicit disapproval of Father Pedro Arrupe, then the head of the Jesuit order. With the help of local Jesuit leadership in Massachusetts he was able to forestall public reprimands from his superiors in Rome, or from the bishops in the Massachusetts dioceses covered by his Congressional district, until finally bowing to a papal directive in 1978 that barred priests from serving in elected public posts.