The Triumph & Tragedy of Robert Drinan

When the Reverend Robert Drinan, S.J., was elected to Congress in 1970, the first and only Jesuit to serve in the House chamber, the religious influence on American politics came largely from the left, and Drinan fit in snugly. Opposition to the Vietnam War and support for the Civil Rights Movement were the two most religiously inflected political debates of the 1960s, and Drinan joined the pantheon of liberal Christian clergy alongside the recently martyred Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend William Sloane Coffin, and Drinan’s own archbishop in Boston, Cardinal Richard Cushing, friend to the Kennedys and a self-described admirer of Drinan. But a decade later, when Pope John Paul II ordered Drinan not to seek re-election, the face of Christian political involvement in America was the Reverend Jerry Falwell and the legions of conservative evangelical voters whom he represented. In only ten years, what happened?

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