Father Drinan: Exeunt Omnes

|

Catholic Priest turned anti-war Congressman Robert Drinan is dead, and the Politico's Andrew Glass has the obit.

In 1970, in the midst of the Vietnam War, Drinan sought a seat in Congress on an anti-war platform. In the Democratic primary, he narrowly defeated Rep. Philip J. Philbin, D-Mass, a 14-term incumbent, who at the time was serving as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in the Democratic primary.

Drinan was subsequently reelected to the House from his Massachusetts district four times, serving from 1971 until 1981. In 1973, Drinan introduced a resolution in Congress calling for the impeachment of President Nixon, although not for the Watergate scandal that would eventually end Nixon's presidency. Rather, Drinan believed Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia violated his oath of office. His strong anti-administration stands soon earned him a place on the Nixon "enemies list."

Drinan also broke with the Catholic church over abortion rights (he supported them), which in retrospect seems like a sign of Democratic politics to come. He retired under duress in 1980, after Pope John Paul II prohibited priests from seeking elective office. In the list of "ways to end a congressional career," this ranks somewhere between "died defusing a bomb in a nursery" and "was Mark Foley." So Congress's first priest retired and was replaced by Congress' first out of the closet gay man. Funny how these things work.

NEXT: Attn, DC Residents: Celebrate Milton Friedman's Life Tonight!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’ll bet Father Drinan held all sorts of views on social policy that are anathema to libertarians. Why are go many of the good guys–from a libertarian economics point of view–complete doeheads?

  2. He taught me ethics in law school. He was old, and couldn’t hear very well, but when he spoke, people listened.

    I didn’t agree with him on much, but he did tell us that while in Congress, he had voted against a pay increase for law-makers. Having taken a vow of poverty, what was he going to do with more moeny 🙂

    People liked him. Genuinely.

  3. “I’ll bet Father Drinan held all sorts of views on social policy that are anathema to libertarians. Why are go many of the good guys–from a libertarian economics point of view–complete doeheads?”

    Fair enough. But I’m sure a lot of anti-war folks on the left can turn that around on libertarians who vote Republican because of economics and say, “Why are so many of the good guys–from a peace and love point of view–such selfish bastards?”

  4. Well, we at Georgetown knew it was coming. He’ll be missed.

  5. Drinan was also the one who put the nails in the coffin of the old House Internal Security Committee, the successor to the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee. When Drinan was elected to Congress, he asked to serve on HISC with the express purpose of abolishing it.

    He succeeded four years later in Jan. ’75 when he and the Watergate class voted to abolish HISC and transfer its internal security functions to the House Judiciary Cmte, which did nothing with its new powers.

    Many on the Right never forgave Drinan for that act…

  6. Imagine a modern-day congressman who takes and lives by a vow of poverty. I’d be tempted to vote for such a candidate no matter what they believed.

  7. It’s a shame there will never be a Jesuit pope.

  8. Imagine a modern-day congressman who takes and lives by a vow of poverty.

    They all do. But it’s your poverty they’re thinking about.

    I’d be tempted to vote for such a candidate no matter what they believed.

    The modern politician who comes closest to this ideal is Ralph Nader. Not high on my list.

  9. An active priest who was a member of Congress is being mourned on this site? Where is the separation of church and state outrage?

    Oh, he was “anti-war” and cool with killing unborn children. That makes him acceptable.

  10. Yeah, what about all of the articles I keep seeing, objecting to people with religious lives being involved in politics.

    Let’s see, I know there’s one around here somewhere…

  11. Yeah, what about all of the articles I keep seeing, objecting to people with religious lives being involved in politics.

    Were they written 26 years ago?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.