Drinan, father of the “pro-abort Catholic politician”, dead at 86

Drinan, father of the “pro-abort Catholic politician”, dead at 86

“Father Drinan, lawmaker who defied Rome, dead at 86”

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.

Most of Drinan’s obituaries will tell you that he was the only priest to be elected to Congress and that he served on the Watergate investigation committee. What they won’t say is that Drinan may have been singlehandedly responsible for the specter of the pro-abortion Catholic politician. Before he arrived in Washington in 1971, just about every Catholic politician was reliably pro-life. Even Mass. Sen. Ted Kennedy, one of the biggest friends Planned Parenthood ever had, was once pro-life, giving eloquent speeches in defense of life that would be indiscernible from anything George W. Bush might say today.

Yet when Drinan came to Washington, he set an example for the Catholic laymen. If a Jesuit priest could be so outspokenly liberal and pro-abortion without any repercussions from his superiors or Rome, then why couldn’t the laymen follow suit? Then they could have the best of both worlds: They could continue to sell themselves as good Catholic boys to the little Italian and Irish grandmothers in Massachusetts while simultaneously appealing to the rising number of pro-abortion liberal voters too.

The Strange Political Career of Father Drinan

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
19 comments
  • My personal guess is that Bob Drinan is just about now regretting—seriously regretting—his position on abortion.  At least if there’s any justice . . .

  • Fr. Jim: Well, we should hold out home for an (unlikely) last-minute repentance that would save him from Hell, although even if repentance occurred, he probably has a long purgatorial stay ahead of him.  Except for William Brennan, who participated in the Roe decision, and Anthony Kennedy, who single-handedly kept Roe alive in 1992 in the most evil flip-flop in American history, Drinan did more for the culture of death than any American Catholic of the past forty years.  As Dom says, he paved the way that Catholic lay politicians followed.

  • Well, it’s not entirely inconsistent with charity under the heading of “instructing the ignorant” (or wayward, as the case may be).

    Those who lead others astray on even the least point will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    And who knows? Even God can rescue something from rubbish!

  • Is there anything good I can say about him? 

    Well, he presumably glorified God, objectively speaking, when he offered Holy Mass.

  • But didn’t Christ say that people like Drinan who led His people—His little ones—astray would be better off if they had millstones put around their necks and were tossed in a lake.

  • He has an awful lot to answer for.  If the Church granted “Millstone Awards,” he’d have surely been a recipient.  But I hope we can all sincerelyi> hope and pray that the man was given (and corresponded to) the grace of final repentance.  God wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  Coming to that knowledge of the truth at the very last minute is still better than obstinately holding out until it was too late.

  • “But didn’t Christ say that people like Drinan who led His people—His little ones—astray would be better off if they had millstones put around their necks and were tossed in a lake.”

    He sure did.  But note that He didn’t imbue any of us with the charism of knowing who would and would not be wearing one. 

    Businesses have internal audits.  As Christians, we believe, if you will, in the “eternal audit”.  Thinking of all the garbage Fr. Drinan had in his closet only reminds me of how much mine is in need of continuous cleaning.

  • Folks, it is not a lack of charity to say that someone who—OBJECTIVELY—led countless thousands of others “into temptation” during his life as a priest may very well now be suffering the flames of hell and eternal damnation.

    I do not preclude the possibility of Fr. Drinan having repented (on or near his deathbed) and having received the supernatural grace of the Sacrament of the Sick.  However, considering his continued public stance in favor of abortion—that is, the mal-formation of his conscience over years of habitually informing it apart from the authentic magisterial authority of the Church—it is extremely unlikely that he moved himself to true and perfect contrition toward the end of his life.

    This is not to presume knowledge of the state of Drinan’s soul; it is merely a logical conclusion based upon what we know about virtue and vice and the effect each has on the conscience and soul of a human being.  Virtue begets virtue; vice begets vice.  To presume even a CHANCE of Fr. Drinan’s experiencing perfect contrition for the ENORMITY of his crimes strains credulity.

    But even were he to (somehow) allow such grace to enter his soul and to move it to repentance, there is still the considerable problem of justice and reparation.

    The fact that there is no death-bed statement renouncing his position on abortion, expressing sincere regret for having misled two generations of politicians and Catholics, and having personal culpability for Heaven knows how many deaths—this fact implies that there was effectively nothing done by Fr. Drinan to counteract the grave evils which he facilitated.  Nor did he do anything to reprove and re-instruct any of those he misled.  Only such a death-bed statement could begin to restore justice to that which is seemingly to be remembered as Drinan’s life’s work (see today’s Boston Herald).

    Frankly, for me and others NOT to speak of the enormity of his crimes and the eternal consequences thereof would put our own immortal souls in jeopardy; it would be effectively minimizing the extreme danger we put ourselves in by facilitating (or even not speaking against) any grave sin, but especially the sin of abortion.

    Bottom line:  it is not easy to undo the damage one does through sin; it requires active cooperation with God’s grace and substantial work to restore justice.  Belief that it likely happens an instant before death is foolhardy.

  • …and a postscript:

    To state the obvious problems with the state of Fr. Drinan’s “closet” is in no way to minimize any disarray in my own.  It’s another contemporary fallacy to believe that only those who are perfectly purified can point out error in others.

  • Goodbye, Good riddance.  He was full of himself as are many of his followers.  Justice comes his way.

  • ‘Fallacy’? If that’s based on the word ‘perfectly’ then I’d agree, just as it is a modern fallacy to believe that we can’t love one another UNTIL we have a perfect love for ourselves. Only the first has more credence because Jesus did proclaim an order of things (‘First’, ‘then’) in the case of fraternal correction, but ‘as’ imposes no such order and can mean ‘while’, ‘in the same manner as’ and ‘to the same degree as’, etc. Although in both cases, our imperfections might interfere with the perfection of our actions.
    And then there’s Dismas. So shouldn’t we not only HOPE for Fr D’s salvation (though we can’t presume) but ask him to pray for the reversal of Roe vs Wade? That’s what I’ve been doing, anyway.

  • The case of Fr. Drinan is very troubling.
    Certainly we should pray for the repose of his soul.
    Only God can judge that. Yet if certain private revelations about purgatory are to be believed, they indicate that priests and religious may very well have a much more severe purgation after death because of their particular obligations in the Church. They must give good example.
    In Drinan’s case, we have a priest who consistently voted to support abortion, the killing of the innocent. Objectively speaking this is evil, however much he may have persuaded himself that it wasn’t. And because he was a priest, his example did influence other Catholic politicians who say they’re “personally opposed but….”
    While we pray for his soul, we must repudiate his pro-abortion legacy.

  • Joanne – Let’s make no mistake:  the possibility of salvation (for Fr. Drinan or any of the rest of us) closes with our last breath.  After death, we can no longer repent.

    Either he did repent (and receive saving grace) or he didn’t; if he did, then he presumably has a long time in purgatory and we need to pray for his soul, since he can do nothing now to shorten his stay there.  If he didn’t, then prayers for him are not efficacious.

    Which do you think is MUCH more likely, given what I’ve said above about habituated virtue and vice and what you know about Fr. Drinan?

    And if (as I suspect) it’s more likely that he’s in hell, isn’t it important that we SAY IT OUT LOUD, to help others understand their peril?

  • As much as you are all right that we have an obligation to pray for the repose of Fr. Drinan’s soul, it’s a tough thing when what he stood for and perpetuated led to the deaths of so many unborn children.

    The January issue of “First Things” has an interesting take on the how the Catholic hierarchy relinquished the high ground on the issue of abortion in the 60s and 70s, letting it go in favor of other social issues favored by the Democratic Party. Thus, as the Democratic Party began to embrace the pro-abortion plank as a civil right, the hierarchy,almost all completely Democrat by party affiliation, went along, feeling that for whatever reason their party affiliation and all that it stood for historically was of greater importance. Of course, the fact that Fr. Drinan was of the Massachusetts delegation only makes the situation even more pathetic.

  • Fr. Drinan was a disgrace to the priesthood
    and the Church.

    Although I have no reason to be confident in
    his salvation, Christ judges mens’ souls not
    me. I will pray that Our Lord has mercy on
    Fr. Drinan’s soul.

    I agree with Fr. Clark that any Catholic
    who acts as Fr. Drinan did, should be publicly
    condemned.

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