< .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A true end of an era

The death of Robert Drinan at the age of 86 officially closes the books on an unusual and bygone era of American politics -- the Catholic Church as a force on the left.

Drinan and the Berrigan brothers, Daniel and Phillip, were the face of the American Catholic Church to those of us who came of age politically in the '60s. Drinan was the first candidate I worked for, stuffing envelopes. As the Globe notes:

Supporters saw his entering Congress as a logical union of his legal and spiritual vocations. "Our father, who art in Congress" became a popular, if unofficial, campaign slogan.

Yet many of Father Drinan's most vehement detractors were Catholics who opposed him politically because they saw his electoral career as detracting from his priestly calling. He further angered some Catholics with his show of independence from the church, supporting federal funding of abortions and opposing constitutional amendments that would have banned abortion and allowed prayer in public schools.

But as time has proven, they were not in the mainstream of their church. Drinan was forced to resign by Pope John Paul II in 1980 on the premise the church and elected office did not mix.

Months later, the first strong indication that the policy was going to get selective enforcement came when Boston Cardinal Humberto Medeiros offered a pastoral letter injecting himself and the church into the race -- with a call to elect a candidate who opposed a woman's right to choose.

Medeiros' effort backfired -- Barney Frank won his first term in Congress -- and the role of the Catholic Church in American political life changed forever.

But the wise-cracking gay Jew from Newton by way of Hoboken long ago proved himself a worthy successor to the ideals of the quiet, self-effacing Catholic from Boston.

Rest in peace, Padre.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home