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2007: The Jesuit Congressman

2007: The Jesuit Congressman
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Jesuit Robert Drinan opposed the Vietnam War, especially the bombing of Cambodia during the time of President Nixon. Drinan was a member of the Democratic Party, just like most members of the Kennedy family.

Jesuit priest Robert Drinan died on this day in 2007. He is particularly interesting because he was a U.S. Congressman, i.e. a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Indeed, he was one of only two Catholic priests ever to be elected into Congress and have the right to vote (the other was Robert John Cornell). Long before these two another Catholic priest – Gabriel Richard – was also a member of the Congress, but didn’t have the right to vote.

Robert Drinan was born to a Catholic family in Boston in 1920 (the most famous American Catholic family, the Kennedys, also lived in that city). In his youth Drinan joined the Society of Jesus, and was ordained a priest in 1953. He became a Doctor of Theology at the famous Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

In 1970 Drinan became a candidate at the U.S. Congress elections, in Massachusetts (Boston is the capital of that U.S. state). He won at the 1971 elections and entered Congress as the first Catholic priest with the right to vote in the history of that institution.

As a politician, Drinan opposed the Vietnam War, especially the bombing of Cambodia during the time of President Nixon. Drinan was a member of the Democratic Party, just like most members of the Kennedy family.

Drinan was a Congressman for 10 years, i.e. until 1981. When Pope John Paul II asked Catholic priests to withdraw from political election campaigns, Drinan obeyed and did not run for Congressman after the end of his term.

After leaving Congress he was a lecturer at the famous Georgetown University (the oldest Catholic university in the U.S., attended by Bill Clinton and many U.S. senators). He died in Washington, D.C. at the age of 86.

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