The Rev. Robert Drinan, the first and only Catholic priest elected to Congress died yesterday at age 86. He served in Congress for 10 years before Pope John Paul II decreed in 1980 that priests were no longer allowed to hold elected office. Father Drinan's tenure was before my time, so I remember him more from the Sunday talk shows than from Congress. I recall, in particular, one Easter a few years ago where he was on Meet the Press, when he said this:
"The problem is when some religions say that you have to impose in the law our particular beliefs. Certain fundamentalists think that gays should be discriminated against, and that's not in the common tradition. There's a common core of moral and religious beliefs, and frankly, we are in total violation of that. We are supposed to be good to the poor; we have more poor children in America than in any other industrialized nation. We're supposed to love prisoners and help them; we have 2.1 million people in prison, the largest of any country of the Earth. We also allow eleven children to be killed by guns every day. All of the religions are opposed to that. That's violence. Why don't we organize on that?"The Globe has statements from some former colleagues:
Last night, several of Father Drinan's colleagues said his character and conscience made him a strong voice on Capitol Hill. In a statement, Senator Edward Kennedy cited Father Drinan's principled commitment to, among other causes, ending the war in Vietnam. "He was a profile in courage in every sense of the word, and the nation has lost one of the finest persons ever to serve in Congress," Kennedy said.Daily Kos and the Outraged Liberal have more.
"When I arrived in Congress, Father Drinan was already serving as the conscience of the House of Representatives with every vote he cast," US Representative Edward Markey of Malden said. " He was a man of faith who never stopped searching for truth, and he was a committed educator who stayed true to his faith."