Father Drinan

by Jon Rzepala

Update: As of October 21, 2013 there is video related to this post on our website.

Hello, I am a new intern here working on the Boston Local TV News Project and this is my first post. I am just getting acclimated to my new work environment with new responsibilities and tasks. I haven’t yet met the auspicious goal of transcribing 200 WHDH cards in a single day, but I’m working on it. I’ve begun by working my way through the cards for news stories beginning with the letter D. There have been stories about “Dope Raids”, “Double Parking” and the town of “Dover” among a host of other stories beginning with D.

One title or subject of many news stories I’ve come across is the name Robert Drinan, or as he was also known as evidenced by the story cards, “Father Drinan.” <!--more read more...--> Being in my late 30s the name sounded somewhat familiar to me, but I could not place it exactly. His more public years occurred while I was still a small child. However, after some research I found out that Robert Drinan, a Catholic priest, was an accomplished man of notoriety and some controversy. He may be one of a very few Catholic priests on record to support abortion rights. Drinan made his argument on legal grounds.

In 1970 “Father Drinan” ran for the U. S. House of Representatives as a Democrat defeating longtime incumbent and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Philip J. Philbin. He also defeated Republican opponent John A. S. McGlennon. Father Drinan ran as an anti-war candidate strongly opposing U.S. involvement in Vietnam. While in Congress, Drinan took on other human rights issues such as emigration rights of Soviet Jews to Israel and the civil war in El Salvador. He also filed the first resolution to impeach then President Nixon on grounds of illegal bombing of Cambodia. Of course, President Nixon would later resign due to the Watergate scandal.

[caption id="attachment53" align="alignright" width="127"]<a href="http://bostonlocaltv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/robertdrinan.jpg"> Courtesy Clerk, US House of Representatives[/caption]

Being one of only two Catholic priests to ever serve in Congress, he held office as a U.S. Representative for Massachusetts for ten years from 1971 until 1981. It was only after an imminent ultimatum from Pope John Paul II requiring him to choose between the Congress and the Church that would he step down to resume his academic career within the Priesthood.

In addition to serving in Congress Drinan was a scholar earning a BA and an MA from Boston College, law degrees from Georgetown University, a theology doctorate from Gregorian University in Rome and many honorary degrees. Drinan began his academic career as Assistant Dean at the Boston College Law School and would later become its dean by the age of 36. Drinan is credited with improving and building the reputation for the BC Law School. Robert Drinan also authored multiple books and articles. After his time in Congress, Drinan taught law at Georgetown Law until his death in 2007.