Bob Drinan: The Controversial Life of the First Catholic Priest Elected to Congress

Overview

Raymond Schroth's Bob Drinan: The Controversial Life of the First Catholic Priest Elected to Congress shows that the contentious mixture of religion and politics in this country is nothing new. Four decades ago, Father Robert Drinan, the fiery Jesuit priest from Massachusetts, not only demonstrated against the Vietnam War, he ran for Congress as an antiwar candidate and won, going on to serve for 10 years. Schroth has delved through magazine and newspaper articles and various archives (including Drinan's ...

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Bob Drinan: The Controversial Life of the First Catholic Priest Elected to Congress

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Overview

Raymond Schroth's Bob Drinan: The Controversial Life of the First Catholic Priest Elected to Congress shows that the contentious mixture of religion and politics in this country is nothing new. Four decades ago, Father Robert Drinan, the fiery Jesuit priest from Massachusetts, not only demonstrated against the Vietnam War, he ran for Congress as an antiwar candidate and won, going on to serve for 10 years. Schroth has delved through magazine and newspaper articles and various archives (including Drinan's congressional records at Boston College, where he taught and also served as dean of the law school) and has interviewed dozens of those who knew Drinan to bring us a life-sized portrait. The result is a humanistic profile of an intensely private man and a glimpse into the life of a priest-politician who saw advocacy of human rights as his call. Drinan defined himself as a moral architectand was quick to act on his convictions, whether from the bully pulpit of the halls of Congress or from his position in the Church as a priest; to him they were as intricately woven as the clerical garb he continued to wear unapologetically throughout his elected tenure. Drinan's opposition to the Vietnam War and its extension into Cambodia, his call for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon (he served on the House Judiciary Committee, which initiated the charges), his pro-choice stance on abortion (legally, not morally), his passion for civil rights, and his devotion to Jewish people and the well-being of Israel made him one of the most liberal members of Congress and a force to be reckoned with. But his loyalty to the Church was never in question, and when Pope John Paul II demanded that he step down from offi ce, he did so unquestioningly. Afterward, he continued to champion the ideals he thought would make the world a better place. He didn't think of it in terms of left and right; as moral architect, he saw it in terms of right and wrong.This important book doesn't resolve debate about issues of church and state, but it does help us understand how one side can inform the other, if we are listening. It has much to say that is worth hearing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As a young reporter in the 1960s I covered many demonstrations and press conferences where Father Drinan was conspicuous by his presence and his strong words, and for a number of years thereafter Ray Schroth was one of my editors at Commonweal. From both I learned much about the way a church can make itself felt in the world. Ray's life of Drinan has the strengths of both men — crisp writing, serious purpose, and a warm instinct for what matters."-Tom Powers

". . . This intriguing portrait in courage provides an intimate glimpse into the heart and soul of a deeply textured spiritual and political groundbreaker."-Booklist

"When asked why he wore his clerical collar in Congress, Bob Drinan would quip It's the only suit I own. Ray Schroth, in this meticulously researched and highly readable biography, illuminates the man and the quip. How could Drinan answer questions about matching partisan politics and priestly calling? This was not a unique problem for an unusual Jesuit. Drinan's life displays the complexity of the modern priesthood. How to realize Catholic morality in the public square, nurture personal spirituality, live out intimate human relations with family, friends and colleagues. Bob Drinan faced all these issues with success and loss and notable loneliness."-Dennis O'Brien

"Schroth sketches a nuanced portrait of a man who found his calling early in life, never let the fire of his belief die, and who challenged his country and his church to live up to the ideals of their founders."-John Olinger, National Catholic Reporter

". . . Captures the lively politics surrounding Drinan's 1970 campaign."—Michael Kenney, The Boston Globe

" . . . [A] tenderly crafted biography."—ForeWord

"As rendered by Schroth, Drinan exemplifies a fleeting moment in the history of the Catholic church when social justice and political action were seen as compatible and a complex moral voice rang out in Congress."—Patti Miller, Conscience

Publishers Weekly
In 1970, the Jesuit priest Robert Drinan was elected to Congress after famously running as an antiwar candidate; he served for a decade, opposing the encroachment of U.S. military forces into Cambodia and actively calling for President Nixon's impeachment. Schroth's workmanlike biography carefully and lovingly chronicles Drinan's life and work, from his childhood and youth in Massachusetts through his development into a passionate advocate for civil rights and ecumenical dialogue, especially between Christians and Jews, and as a moral architect for change in America. Although Drinan left public office in a controversy over his stated beliefs about abortion, he continued to be involved deeply in affairs that involved politics and religion. In his last major book, Can God and Caesar Coexist? (2004), Drinan reminded us that the right to practice the religion of one's own choice is very new in human history and asked, if this right were enforced, whether or not the world would be spared the violent wars caused by the clash of religious beliefs. Schroth's loving tribute to Drinan restores the late priest-legislator's thoughtful and forceful voice to contemporary religious life. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823233052
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 9/3/2012
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 990,164
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., is editor of Conversations, the magazine for American Jesuit colleges and universities. His own path crossed with Drinan's at several junctures, making his an ideal voice for investigating both the circumstances that made Drinan an important figure in American politics and his role as Jesuit priest within the Catholic Church. Schroth, previously Professor of Humanities at St. Peter's College, has been affiliated with five Jesuit colleges and universities; is the author of eight other books, including Fordham: A History and Memoir, Revised Edition (Fordham); and has been an editor and columnist for America, Commonweal, and The National Catholic Reporter.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

1 A New Beginning 8

2 Breaking out from a World Frozen in Time 37

3 Moving Up 63

4 "The World Turned Upside Down" 87

5 A "New Politics" Candidate 105

6 The "Miracle" Election 126

7 The Age of Less-Great Expectations 152

8 Close Calls 172

9 "My conscience tells me…" 195

10 The Moral Architect 213

11 Around the World 238

12 Latin America, Israel, and the Last Campaign 266

13 "Hurt, bitter, and confused" 295

Epilogue: Resurrection 316

Notes and Sources 349

Bibliography and Interviews 359

Index 367

Photographs follow page 000

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