Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 18, 2007, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, I rise with a sad duty, although also a proud one. It is a chance for our colleagues to mourn the death and celebrate the life of one of the ablest and most principled people ever to serve as a Member of this body, the late Father Robert Drinan.
Madam Speaker, I will include for the Record of these proceedings the eulogies that were given at his funeral mass last Thursday by two of his fellow Jesuits, the Reverend John Langan and Professor Ladislas Orsy; by John DeGioia, the President of Georgetown University, where he taught for so many years; by our colleague Senator Edward Kennedy; and by former Ambassador Max Kampelman. The Speaker also gave a eulogy, which she herself inserted in the Record.
Madam Speaker, Bob Drinan was an extraordinary man. He had several careers, any one of which would have been extremely impressive. He was a Member of this body for only 10 years. By Congressional standards, that is not a long career, and many people are surprised to learn it was only 10 years, because his impact on this body and through this body, this country and this world was so significant. He was a man of such force of intellect and strength of character and energy and determination that he made 10 years here do more than many do in 30 or more years.
He was a prolific author of serious and thoughtful books. As I said in Massachusetts on Saturday, Father Drinan wrote more books than some high officials in this town have ever read.
He was a very distinguished educator. Had he been nothing but the Dean of Boston College Law School, and two of our colleagues who attended that law school during his deanship, the gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Markey and the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott, will be addressing us soon, had he simply been that dean for 16 years when he helped make that into the first rate educational institution it is today, that would have been a significant career.
Then on leaving this place, he spent 26 years teaching at Georgetown. At 86, Bob Drinan was a vigorous and engaging teacher who was widely sought after by students interested in the intellectual stimulation that they got from him.
Now, with all of this, he was, of course, a Jesuit priest, and it was striking to me last Thursday here in Washington, Saturday at Boston College, to see the justifiable pride that his fellow Jesuits had in this man. And not just their pride in him, but their pride and gratitude that he remained first and foremost a member of that Jesuit community, an extra community of people who have made such contributions to education and other important causes in this country.
But what was particularly striking was the gap between the immensity of his accomplishments, the dignity of his intellect and his person. No one was ever less inclined to stand on ceremony. He was a down-to-earth individual. People who met him, and simply met him without knowing who he was, although that became increasingly harder as his fame grew, would be surprised to learn that he was a man of such accomplishments.
He was a delight to be with. He was one of the most irreverent reverends you will ever meet, and did not need ceremony, did not need any kind of false dignity. He had the talents.
What I want to talk about now is the common theme in that multiplicity of careers, of teacher and law school dean and Member of Congress and priest and author.
We have a lot of debate in our society and American politics about morality in politics, what is the role of morality in politics, and there are some who style themselves as very religious, who believe that they are the exemplars of morality in politics and who have been critical of people like Father Drinan and said that he failed in that task.
Absolutely the contrary is true. Father Drinan's life was dedicated to public morality. Few people worked as consistently and effectively to bring a moral tone to the relationships we have with each other.
Now, people have said, ``well, what about on some of these individual matters?'' Let's be very clear. This is a man who lived by an extraordinary exacting moral code personally. He was a priest. He was a priest for over 60 years and a member of the Jesuit community. As a Member of Congress, he served the Jesuit community in Georgetown. When he went back to his district, it was the Jesuit community at Boston College. He voluntarily subjected himself to the very stringent discipline that the Jesuit community and priests in general follow.
In 1980, when he was ordered by Pope John Paul II not to run again for Congress, that was a decision that caused him great anguish. It denied him the chance to do something that he thought was terribly important to his very being, and he wished that he could reverse the decision. But when it became clear that that decision could not be reversed, there was no hesitation.
People who want to talk about living by a moral code should look at the example of this very important Member of Congress with great accomplishments behind him who voluntarily left this body because the moral code of the priesthood to which he had committed himself required him to do that.
So in his personal life, he lived by the code of celibacy and of obedience and of poverty. And it was a voluntary decision, and anyone who knew him knew that he had talents which would have allowed him to break those bonds, but he didn't see them as bonds, he saw them as an essential part of his being.
So for those who wonder about his dedication and personal morality, look at his life. Look at this man, who at 86 awoke 10 days ago feeling ill, feeling very sick, and ignored the advice of others to stay home and went to class to teach at 86 and collapsed in class, because he had a sense of duty and an insistence on living by that personal code that no one could deny.
On the other hand, he did not believe, and I do not claim that this is something he told me, he was a man who taught in his life by example as well as articulately. As the Speaker said in her eulogy, he quoted Saint Francis of Assisi, who said, ``Preach the gospel, and sometimes use words,'' and Bob Drinan preached the gospel by his life and his life's work very effectively.
I believe that his view was that, yes, he was happy to follow a stringent moral code personally that few human beings would be able to do with the dedication and discipline that he did for as long as he did, but he also felt that that was his personal choice. It was a choice that he would urge on others. He was a member of that important religious community, and through that religious community, yes, he would convey that message.
But he did not believe, and this is what is critical, that it was legitimate to use the coercive mechanism of government to impose his personal choices on others, and that is the distinction that Father Drinan stands for. In those matters of life where we affect each other, where human beings come together and impact each other, than morality must guide our actions.
I would caution many of my liberal friends who say, well, we don't want to have morality in politics, because they are reacting against people who would use the government to impose personal choices on others. That is not morality, and the problem there is not that they are imposing morality in politics, but that they are intruding politics into personal lives.
What Father Drinan stood for in his writings, as a Member of Congress, as an activist, as an advocate, as a teacher, was that in those areas of life where we come together and affect each other, we are obligated to follow a moral code, and that is a moral code which focused on the dignity of human beings and the right of every human being to be treated decently, because that was the common core of Bob Drinan.
What issues did he care about? He cared most about those issues where there was a danger that some people would be mistreated. In the fifties and sixties, he was the leader in the fight against racism and for racial justice, one of the great examples of wrongdoing in American history, of people of African descent being mistreated. Bob was a leader in the civil rights movement.
He was a great civil libertarian, opposing efforts to oppress people who spoke in terms that other people did not like.
He was a great defender of the Jewish community, against anti-Semitism.
He then became the founder, more than any other individual, of the doctrine of international human rights. Before the seventies, there were people on the left who criticized governments on the right for not respecting human rights. There were people on the right who criticized left governments for not following human rights.
Bob Drinan was one of those who forged the doctrine that we could demand respect by any government of any political stripe, that they respect the rights of individuals, and he was a leader in his writings and his work here in the Congress. That was the central core, whether it was racism or anti-Semitism, whether it was governments denying people basic rights, whether it was our own government denying the rights of our own citizens in the name of security.
He was a very good lawyer. In fact, in the seventies, he was working hard on rewriting a criminal code which some of the people on the left thought was too tough, because he understood that people had a right to be protected against those who would violate their rights and property. But he also believed deeply from his experience that there was no need for the government to disregard basic human rights in protecting all of us, and there were no more articulate defenders of that principle.
When he stood up against Richard Nixon, it was because of his conviction that the Nixon administration was defying fundamental human rights, a conviction which, of course, proved to be absolutely true.
That is the common thread. And Bob Drinan believed, and this is very important I think to note, that it was as a priest that he wrote, as a priest that he served here, as a priest that he advocated for human rights, because he genuinely believed that in his insistence that we treat each other with the dignity that human beings are entitled to, he was following the word of his God as he understood it, a God that created in his mind human beings with this inherent dignity.
So this is a man whose life had many parts, but they had a common theme. They had a common theme, whether it was in his religion or his politics or his writing or his teaching. It was that we owe each other the duty of respect and dignity. And, yes, morality belongs in politics, and Bob Drinan's life, both as a Member of Congress, as a political activist afterwards, yes, it was dedicated to morality in politics.
He was a man who understood that there is no greater political immorality than an unjust war; that nothing more greatly degrades human beings than wars which violate the doctrine of the just war. And he came to this Congress as a leading opponent of the Vietnam War at a time when it was not the most popular thing, and up until his last days he was a leader in agitation against another unjust war as he saw it.
So I am very proud to be the inheritor of that tradition. I do not claim to exemplify all aspects of it. But I do share with him this commitment, that people have a right to make personal choices; that your personal choices ought to be guided by a moral code; and that we ought to urge on each other that we bring out the best. But that when it comes to using the coercive mechanisms of the government, the central point is to make sure that people are treated fairly by each other, that the role of morality in politics is to enforce the fundamental right of each person to be treated with dignity and respect.
Bob Drinan was an exemplar of what is appropriately morality in politics. We will miss him terribly, but we have, enduring, his example to drive us forward.
Now, Madam Speaker, I want to yield to one of my colleagues, who is the only member of the Massachusetts delegation who was able to serve with Bob Drinan, one of the few Members who served with him and who has the dual distinction of both serving with him and being his student at Boston Law School and is a man who very much carried out the ethic of respect for human rights that Bob exemplified. The gentleman from Massachusetts, I yield him such time as he may consume.
I thank the gentleman very much, and I thank him for his eloquent statement. I thank him for the eulogy which he delivered on behalf of Father Drinan at St. Ignatius Church in Massachusetts on this past Saturday. You captured the essence of Father Drinan in that eulogy, and I thank you for doing that on behalf of all of us.
Mr. Speaker, the House of Representatives mourns the passing of Father Robert Drinan, Society of Jesus, Member of Congress. His death is a blow to those of us who revered his wit and wisdom, and a great loss for those who continue to struggle for human rights and life's basic necessities. Yet, tonight we also celebrate Father Drinan's life and know well that the life he brought to the issues of our time will continue to shine on in the efforts of those he touched and those whom he exhorted to do more.
I had the privilege of having Father Drinan as my dean at Boston College Law School. I met him in August of 1968 as the school year at Boston College Law School was about to commence. But the truth is that I had set my goal to attend Boston College Law School 6 years before when I was a sophomore in high school because it became my goal to go to Boston College Law School so that I could have Father Drinan as my dean; and, to be honest with you, I didn't even know if you had to go to college in order to go to law school, such was my desire to go and to be in this school that was training lawyers to help humanity.
At Boston College Law School in the late 1960s, Father Drinan used his power as the dean of that school to actively recruit minorities, to actively recruit women to come to Boston College Law School. He did so using the greatest power that a dean of a law school has, and that is admissions and full scholarships. He wanted Boston College Law School to be at the cutting edge of the change which was taking place in our society, and he wanted to ensure that those who had been excluded from our society would be given access to the law school education that they would need in order to effect the laws in our society. And today, all of those who were exposed to him during the years that he was dean at Boston College Law School continue to have a debt to him, not only those to whom he brought in, in order to ensure that they were not excluded, but all of the rest of us who were then exposed to these injustices and the remedies to them that Father Drinan ensured that that law school embodied.
Just a few years after graduating from Boston College Law School, only 4 years later, I had the great honor of coming here as Father Drinan's colleague. I felt that there was no greater honor in fact in being elected to Congress than in knowing that I would be his colleague. It seemed somewhat asymmetrical that I would have the same vote that he had here on the House floor. And when he would consult me on which choice he should make, should he become the chairman of the criminal law subcommittee or the immigration subcommittee, it was an honor for me to be consulted by Father Drinan as a young man now, but his colleague in Congress, as to what was the best place. And his criteria of course was what was the best place where he could do the most good for those most in need in our society. And of course, the way he saw our society was not just the United States of America but the whole planet.
So I had that unique opportunity to see him in both of those settings, both in law school and here on the House floor. And I saw him play the role of the catalyst, of the idealist, of the man who continued to push others when they say they can go no further in trying to strive for excellence and to stand up for an ideal. And that is the role that Father Drinan played not just in law school and not just here in Congress, but for the last 26 years since he left this Chamber.
When we stand in this Chamber of Congress, when Members of Congress are coming here to cast their vote, all of our names are flashed up on a board over the head of the Speaker to vote ``aye'' or ``nay'' on the key issues of our time. During the years that Father Drinan was a Congressman, as the Members would look up to see how other Members of Congress voted, when they looked up at Father Drinan's name, they knew he was not casting a vote looking at the next election, but rather he was looking at the next generation on every vote. And that led to almost every one of his elections being as close as an election can be, because he was not factoring in his own electoral life but rather the life of every person in our society. His vote was true north, every vote that he cast here in Congress.
As a Jesuit, he clearly lived up to the Jesuitical ideal of being a contemplative in action. He worked tirelessly for both tolerance and for social justice. He took on each task in this institution, large and small, as he did others in life, and offered them Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, To the Greater Glory of God, which was a favorite phrase of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.
He was unambiguous in his convictions that America could do better, could aspire to greater things for its people and the world. The direct and candid quality of Father Drinan's personality added to the moral force that Father Drinan brought to the quality of the debate in this Chamber. His personality animated these discussions in hearings and debates here on the floor. His eloquent, passionate, heartfelt speeches are greatly missed.
Madam Speaker, I think that one of the real ironies of Father Drinan's career is that at its very end here in Congress, in his very last term here that he served in this body, that he was unopposed. In other words, just at the point at which he had convinced those who lived in his district that in fact not only was he not outside the main stream, but his views were those that should be embraced by everyone who lived within that district, he was unopposed. He had fought Richard Nixon on Vietnam; he had called for Richard Nixon's impeachment because of the illegal bombing on Cambodia. He was someone who, by the time he had reached 1980, people looked up to with admiration that he had been unafraid during those fights during the early 1970s, one that had been able to now command the admiration of everyone in this body.
His defense of human rights was tireless, from the plight of Soviet Jewry to the victims of apartheid to the dislocated and the powerless in Central America. He risked his own life in going down to Central America after the assassination of Archbishop Romero. He was the first. His voice was the most powerful. He brought a moral dimension to the crimes that were being committed in Central America. He elevated that to a point where Congress had to deal with it. He mobilized the Jesuit community, the moral community not only here but around the world to focus on what was happening in Central America. It was Father Drinan. And he was literally risking his life when he went down there in those early years. There was no protection for him. That was the unwavering commitment of his life, that he would use it in order to advance the cause of those who were most powerless.
And at Trinity College, as Speaker Pelosi said, on the day before she was sworn in he delivered a sermon to each of us who was there on our responsibilities to help the children of Darfur, the children of Katrina, and every child in need of help around the planet. And he told us that it was our job here to make sure that those children were taken care of, that God's work was truly our own here in this great body.
Now, when Father Drinan was forced to choose between political life and his priestly life, it really wasn't a choice. On that day, I went up into his office and sat with him and I asked him how he felt. And he said, ``Eddie, it really isn't a difficult choice. I am a priest for life, not a politician. I will find other ways to serve God, and I will be able to accept this, although it is difficult.'' And that is just how he was. And for the next 26 years, it can be argued that he had the most productive part of his life, because during those 26 years he, then at Georgetown Law School, trained thousands of young lawyers to go out across this country and across this world in order to advocate on behalf of human rights.
So he showed us how we could pursue justice, seek continued incremental progress towards peace, towards a more just distribution of society's assets, and towards a Nation which celebrated diversity and fostered tolerance.
In the final analysis, Father Robert Drinan was a gift to all of us. Here in the House of Representatives, the memory of this iconic and comprehensively decent man of our friend and our colleague will be long remembered and venerated. He will be sorely missed not just here in Washington and in Massachusetts, but all around the world.
I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts.
I thank my colleague. And I would now recognize another colleague who is carrying on very much that work. The gentleman from Massachusetts who just spoke alluded to Father Drinan's role in Central America, and our next speaker is a man who along with our late colleague Joe Moakley played a very important role in carrying forward that work of bringing people to justice which had begun with Father Drinan.
I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern).
I want to thank my colleague from Massachusetts, Barney Frank, for organizing this Special Order, and I want to thank him for his beautiful words paying tribute to Father Drinan as well as my other colleague from Massachusetts, Ed Markey, for his very beautiful words honoring a truly great man.
I feel truly privileged to have known Father Drinan. As was made clear by the previous speakers, he was a remarkable man, remarkable in his incredible faith and remarkable in his strong political beliefs.
I think all of us who knew Bob Drinan will miss him; however, I believe that even those who didn't know Father Drinan personally will feel a great sense of loss, because we have lost a man who was truly dedicated to good. He was a man of unbelievable intellect, of unbelievable conviction and compassion. He also was a man with a great sense of humor.
You know, the day after his passing, I delivered a tribute to him on this House floor, and I recalled his early and steadfast opposition to the war in Vietnam and his most recent opposition to the war in Iraq.
He thought both wars were senseless and moral blunders. Father Drinan was someone who spoke his mind, regardless of the political polls or political consequences. Indeed, many of his closest allies would caution him to be careful in some of his pronouncements on some of the more controversial issues that he took on.
But even when his words were controversial, he had this kind of uncanny knack of usually being proven right; and whether it was the war in Vietnam or whether it was his call for the impeachment of Richard Nixon, he turned out to be right, on those issues and so many other issues.
I admired his commitment to peace and human rights. Whether it was speaking out on behalf of Jews who were being persecuted by the former Soviet Union or, as mentioned, whether it was his advocacy on behalf of so many people in Central America who were victimized by the wars that engulfed that region of the world in the late 1970s and early 1980s, nobody was more dedicated to human rights than Bob Drinan.
When raising his voice in Congress and trying to change U.S. policy was not enough, he would travel to the countries where people were being oppressed to speak out. Those of us who were involved in El Salvador during the 1980s recall with great admiration his visit to that country in the midst of a civil war where he said mass alongside of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Only a few months after that visit, Archbishop Romeo was murdered by Salvadoran death squads.
We also remember in 1989 when six Jesuit priests were murdered by the Salvadoran military. I was working for Congressman Joe Moakley at the time, who was investigating those killings. Father Drinan spoke up forcefully, demanding justice in that case.
It is also important to note that his service to people did not end when he left the House of Representatives. He continued to advocate for what was right and just in his teachings, his lectures, his numerous TV appearances and his writings.
Many of us would get calls from him, Did you see my piece in the National Catholic Reporter, he would ask, or we would get letters citing specific passages in a book that he wrote or a book that he read or some article that he thought was worth mentioning. He would sometimes suggest we use the material in a speech or perhaps insert something in the Congressional Record. He never stopped making a difference.
I have also had the privilege over the years of attending many dinners with Father Drinan. He always kind of held court. All the attention focused on Father Drinan because he was brilliant, and he had well-thought-out answers to every single policy question that ever existed.
Over the last several days, I have attended his calling hours at Georgetown University and his funeral mass at St. Aloysius Church here in Washington. I was struck by how many people whose lives he had touched. So many of them had dedicated their lives and their careers to public service and education. He inspired people, and the only thing that he scorned was indifference.
Mark Gearan, who was a former staffer of Father Drinan and who actually met his wife Mary Hurley working on Father Drinan's campaign, is now the President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York, and he recently wrote an article that appeared in the Boston Globe entitled, ``Father Drinan was our unfailing champion.'' I would just like to read a passage here:
``But for me and countless others, it was his role as a mentor that distinguished Father Drinan. Amid the pressures of tough campaigns and congressional duties, he always reached out to young staff and encouraged their interest in politics and policy. He took time to ask your opinion on issues and was genuinely interested in knowing why you felt that way. `Tell me something I don't know,' he would bark out in an elevator ride or driving to the airport. A tough assignment to respond to the author of 12 books with such a keen and inquisitive mind.''
I recall one time attending a speech that Father Drinan gave before the Americas for Democratic Action here in Washington, D.C. When his speech was over with, he asked me what did you think. I said it was a great speech. He said what specifically did you like about the speech. I had to think for a minute.
But the bottom line was Bob Drinan was not interested in just empty plaudits. He wanted to know what moved people, what worked, how to get things done, how to move an audience.
This country is better off, not just because of Father Drinan. This country is better off because of the countless people he brought into the political process, people who love this country, people who want to make a difference, people who want to change it for the better.
Several years ago, I attended a graduation commencement ceremony, and the late John Kenneth Galbraith was the speaker, and he said to the audience of students, I would ask you to go out and comfort the afflicted, but given the current political climate that might be considered eccentric. So instead I will ask you to go out and afflict the comfortable.
That is what Father Drinan did, and that is what we are going to miss, a truly great man who did some extraordinary things not only for this country but for people all over the world.
Let me close as I began by saying I feel it a great privilege I had the opportunity to get to know this wonderful man, and I thank my colleague.
I thank the gentleman. Let me call on another of Father Drinan's former students who now serves on the committee where Father Drinan did such good work, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott).
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for organizing this Special Order so that we could pay appropriate tribute to Father Drinan.
I rise today to honor the memory of our former colleague, the distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts, Father Robert Drinan. Father Drinan was elected to this body in 1970 on a platform that advocated progressive ideals, basic human rights for all, and ending our involvement in Vietnam.
During his tenure in the House, Father Drinan was a powerful voice for the poor and disadvantaged; and as a man of faith, he clearly understood morality in its true sense. Just 2 years ago on NBC's ``Meet the Press,'' Father Drinan eloquently stated:
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 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 on the Earth. We also allow 11 children to be killed every day. All of the religions are opposed to that. That's violence. Why don't we organize on that?
Father Drinan spent his life advocating to change these realities. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Father Drinan strived to reform our still broken criminal justice system; and as the new chairman of that subcommittee, I hope to carry on Father Drinan's legacy in that regard.
Father Drinan's compassion for the disadvantaged did not end with his tenure in Congress. After leaving Congress, Father Drinan continued to advocate for basic rights with his service with the International League of Human Rights, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the International Labor Rights Fund, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. He also spent the last 26 years as a law professor at Georgetown University.
I did not have the personal privilege of serving alongside Father Drinan in this Chamber, but I first encountered Father Drinan's commitment to equality during my senior year in college. At that time, Father Drinan was dean of the Boston College Law School, and he went out of his way to open opportunities for minorities at the law school. This motivated me to apply to Boston College Law School, and today, I am a proud graduate of the class of 1973.
Mr. Speaker, this evening we pay final tribute to one who dedicated his life to improving the lives of others and making the American Dream accessible to all. A Jesuit priest who, even as a Member of Congress, lived in a small room in the Jesuit community at Georgetown, Father Drinan helped make better the lives of countless millions of Americans of all religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Our great Nation will certainly feel the loss of this courageous and compassionate humanitarian.
I thank you for yielding to me and thank you for the opportunity to pay tribute to Father Drinan.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his contribution, and now let me call on another member of the Massachusetts delegation who did not serve with Father Drinan here, but has provided very important service to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the State legislature as a leader during the time that Father Drinan was here and another one who carries on in that tradition, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Olver).
Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Massachusetts for organizing this tribute, and I am grateful for the opportunity to add a few thoughts to the eloquent comments of my colleagues in celebration of the life of Father Robert Drinan.
Priest, lawyer, teacher, author, law school dean, Congressman and international statesman, Father Robert Frederick Drinan was an amazing individual who touched the lives of thousands.
More than 100,000 of my current constituents in the northern part of Worcester County, Massachusetts, were fortunate enough to have been represented by Father Drinan during his time in Congress, and they were served extremely well by his unique brand of politics and conscience.
Father Drinan was elected to this House by what was essentially an anti-Vietnam War platform. He was the first to call for the impeachment of President Nixon but not on Watergate grounds. Father Drinan's cause was the President's illegal bombing of Cambodia.
He was a passionate supporter of international human rights. Father Drinan spoke out against injustice wherever he saw it. He even privately funded several humanitarian missions to Chile, El Salvador, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other developing countries torn apart by violence and oppression. He repeatedly urged the President and Congress to do more to restore religious and social freedom to the people of Russia, Bolivia, and Iran.
While he served in the Congress, he uniquely balanced matters of faith with matters of state. Although he opposed abortion on moral grounds, he held that particular religious belief as separate from the issue of the legality of reproductive rights and thus was a fervent supporter of those constitutionally protected rights.
In his district, Father Drinan worked to increase affordable housing in older cities like Fitchburg and Gardner, both of which are in my current district. He was also instrumental in securing funding to begin the cleanup of the Nashua River in north Worcester County. Twenty-five years later, his efforts are the foundation on which we build today.
Later in his life, Father Drinan continued his crusade for international human rights by teaching that subject at Georgetown University and by lending his expertise to numerous international justice organizations here in Washington. For his distinguished career in public service, the American Bar Association and later this House of Representatives awarded him official honors.
Father Drinan's life's work is an enduring example of public and humanitarian service that few will ever equal, but we should all aspire to follow his example. He led with superior conviction, and he lived his life with universal compassion. He will be remembered for many, many years to come.
I thank the gentleman, and finally, very appropriately, a colleague of Father Drinan's in the fight against racism on the central, moral fights then and now in this country, the delegate from the District of Columbia, a woman who prior to coming here was a leader, as she still is, in the movement against racism and for civil rights, and in that capacity, worked very closely then and later with Father Drinan who paid her the ultimate political tribute I think of becoming her constituent. Although I think he was still voting absentee up in my district, I will tell the gentlewoman, but you had his body. I had his vote. It was a good trade. I recognize now the gentlewoman from the District of Columbia (Ms. Norton).
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding to me, and he will understand that Bob Drinan was also a politician; and by voting for you in Massachusetts, he at least had a vote. Whereas living in the District, I appreciate that you provided him with a way for him to express his views.
I think the gentlewoman would agree that he was confident there would not have been much daylight between our voting records. So he could do either one.
The gentleman knows well that he would have expected you to lead this Special Order and he would have wanted you to lead this Special Order, and he would have been right. He would have been right not only because you had the good fortune to inherit his district, but as he would have known, that the gentleman who inherited his district, the new chairman of the Financial Services Committee, would bring it all together for us.
I appreciate the way you have capsulized Bob Drinan's life, and I appreciate the words of his several colleagues, because each has, in his own way, told us something we did not know about this remarkable man.
Now, I have listened in patience to my Massachusetts colleagues who, with some reason, can claim Father Robert Drinan, son of Massachusetts after all, a man who represented the State, a man who after all was born and spent much of his life in the State; but you will forgive me if I come forward to speak for the residents of the District of Columbia and especially for my colleagues at Georgetown University where he lived and worked as a priest and scholar who also this evening and forever will lay claim on Father Bob Drinan.
For me this is a very sad occasion because I was and remain a tenured professor of law at Georgetown University and go every other week to teach a course there. How else could I retain my tenure which is harder to get than to be selected, and he and I joked about that.
But the fact is that there has been an outpouring on the Web site of students, of faculty, because Bob died so suddenly. We got a faculty notice just last week saying Professor Drinan is ill, he is in the hospital, we fully expect his recovery, and telling us that we should leave notes for Bob in a faculty box, and they will see that they got there. This is a man who died on his feet, remarkably vital to the very end. He died the way we all want to die, just like that. No long illness, going to his last class, he died as he lived.
I must say, to the gentleman from Massachusetts, I can only imagine what the experience must have been when Bob Drinan was on this floor, because I did not know him as a Member of the House. He was gone for a long time by the time I got there.
He was 86 when he died, that is living a long life. I was tickled to read a quote of his in the Legal Times when he was asked about whether he thought about retiring from the faculty? And Bob Drinan said, ``Jesuits don't necessarily retire,'' they just did what you do, and he did keep doing what he did, and he did it through a fare thee well. Dean Aleinikoff said, well, when writing for the faculty and students, he said, ``his life was fully devoted to the service of others--in the church, in the classroom, and in Congress.''
Of course, Bob does not need more recognition. I am not sure there was a more recognized man. He loved being recognized. Not out of hubris, but out of the delight and joy that was just a part of his life. He was joyful every time you saw him. He was a man of ideas who always wanted to stop you to pluck one of those ideas out of his brain and see where it would go in yours.
Among the honors that are most delighted him was the faculty, the vote of the faculty at the law school to establish the Robert F. Drinan Chair in Human Rights. I suppose the only thing that might have delighted Father Drinan as much as what we did in just last year, an award, that is, seldom given to past Members of Congress. After all, all of them merit our love for their service, and he was one of three you heard Speaker Pelosi speak about how rare is that honor.
In 2004, the ABA awarded him its highest award, calling him a man of the stuff of which legends are made and legendary, and he was, even in his lifetime. He is really, and we have to face it, the first and the only priest to serve in the Congress. He will be the last probably.
I note that there was a nonvoting delegate who served before him, but you see it doesn't count in the Congress. That is why D.C. is trying to get the vote. So Rob Drinan is the only priest who served. When he first ran, he was asked by one of the Boston papers, well, why are you a priest running for Congress, and he answered, ``Why? Why not? Jesuit priests always have been avant-garde. Right?'' Right, Bob, but have no doubt about it. Bob was a priest first.
When he wore the collar on the floor, he was not trying to impress anybody. He was, I think, being entirely candid when he said it is the only suit I own. Of course, it startled those who have never seen a priest on this floor, much less as a Member.
When he was running for Congress in Boston, there were some who irreverently said ``Our father, who art in Congress,'' as an unofficial campaign slogan. Yet, when he bowed to the discipline of his church and was asked whether he had pain and regret, he answered it is just unthinkable that he would renounce the priesthood to hold office. Here I am quoting him, ``I am proud and honored to be a priest and a Jesuit. As a person of faith, I must believe that there is work for me to do which somehow will be more important than the work I am required to leave.'' I hope Members of Congress will hear those words, this man who had a life after Congress understood, that honor though it be to be elected to the House and the Senate, that may well not be the greatest honor you will ever receive.
For Bob Drinan, it was not what, of course, you, Mr. Chairman, have spoken of, what his colleagues from Massachusetts have spoken of, is the extent to which his deep religious beliefs did not stop at the altar, did not stop at the church door.
I think that Father Drinan would have been very much at home with the bishops, the bishops who are first to stand up against war, the bishops who are the first to speak out for the minimum wage, the bishops who are the first to decry the inattention to the poor. Bob Drinan was, indeed, a priest.
He, when he went to teach at Georgetown, this was no favor to the law school. I had to go on a tenure track like everybody else, 7 years of writing. Bob Drinan did not, he had been a dean of a great law school, he had gotten his tenure, and he was welcomed with open arms at the law school. He was no first-time scholar. What was his discipline? In law school you have to teach what the law school needs, but if you have a specialty, it becomes yours. Can anybody doubt why Father Drinan focused on legal ethics and international human rights?
Mr. Chairman, you have said he virtually created the field. It is a field now that our students, Georgetown and throughout the country, study. It is one of the great and growing legal disciplines of our time. One of his last statements was made in a book called, ``Can God and Caesar Coexist,'' balancing religious freedom and international law? For Bob Drinan, father and priest, God and Caesar existed together, but the magic and marvel of the man, that when he spoke and acted for Caesar, for the State, he understood that he was subject to the discipline of the State, and that meant the first amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects, after all, the State and the church from each other.
They are dangerous for each other. They can impose their will on each other. It is the great first amendment that keeps that from happening, standing side by side, freedom of religion, but that is impossible in our country only when there is no action connoting the establishment of religion.
The President, Mr. Chairman, and you have already, I think, entered for the Record, the statements of those who spoke at the funeral, you and I, and many other Members who attended, President of Georgetown, John DiGioia, said in his statement something that reminds us the deep character of man for whom choices that many of us would find difficult were easy because he had assimilated who he was decades before, and our President DiGioia said, At the peak of his engagement Bob Drinan was told he could no longer serve as an elected Member. And we can all imagine how difficult that choice might have been for us. But for Bob, there was never any real choice. The true character of the man, the depth of his identity as a priest was revealed by his act of obedience.
Mr. Chairman, my appreciation is particularly great to you. I have waited my turn. I have waited my turn, not because of seniority, but because those of you who came from the Massachusetts delegation were, of course, those who spoke first and foremost for and about Father Drinan. But if I may say so it is with the greatest sorrow and the greatest respect that the residents of the District of Columbia, the faculty and students of Georgetown University join you in honoring a remarkable Member of Congress, a remarkable priest, a remarkable son of Massachusetts and, yes, a resident of the District of Columbia.
I thank the gentlewoman.
As I summarize, let me say I think there is a common theme here. We have discussion again about the global morality of politics, and the role of morality in our lives. Father Robert Drinan exemplified that. In his personal life for over 60 years a priest, he gave the exemplary disciplined life that he chose as a priest and adhered to a code of personal morality that very few human beings achieve with a dedication and a belief.
At the same time, he recognized that the personal moral choices he made as a priest, and that he urged others to make, were those personal choices and voluntary choices, and he understood the difference in the scope of governance. He understood that there is a private morality and a public morality. Not that they are in conflict, but that they cover different spheres, and where human beings interact with each other, it is required that government set the rules.
He was a man who did as much to make sure that those interactions were governed by a set of moral principles founded on what was for him a fundamental religious belief and the dignity of man, and in his side-by-side example of a strict code of personal morality, which he followed as a matter of choice, and his insistence that government, when it became coercive, followed the morality of recognizing the dignity of all human beings, he helped us, if, when we listen and read the lesson of his life, to understand what for some people is a difficult decision.
Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to honor a remarkable man, whose recent passing leaves a tremendous void in the world. I am referring of course to Father Robert Frederick Drinan, the first Catholic priest to serve as a voting Member of Congress and a pioneer advocate for human rights.
According to news reports Father Drinan passed away from complications from pneumonia and congestive heart failure, but during his life Father Drinan spoke out clearly and loudly on behalf of those without a voice. His passion to protect the fundamental rights of the human condition both great and small was second to none.
Mr. Speaker, Father Drinan's was a powerful force on behalf of human rights and he helped pave the way for the establishment of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Although I came to Congress after he was forced to resign his seat, I fondly remember working with him in the defense of Soviet Jews in the early 1980s and I recall that he was routinely denied entry into the Soviet Union because of these convictions.
I think it is poignant to know that Father Drinan never got caught up in the trappings of power or the personal ambitions of high public office. The best evidence of this fact is that Father Drinan never considered resigning from the priesthood when Pope John Paul II asked him to retire from Congress or resign.
Robert Drinan was born in 1921 in Boston and entered the Society of Jesus after graduating from Boston College in 1942. He completed his seminary work at Weston College, where noted activist Daniel Berrigan was a classmate. After earning a master's degree from Boston College in 1947, Father Drinan headed south to Washington, DC, where he received two law degrees from Georgetown University. Father Drinan was ordained in 1953 and completed his doctorate in theology from Rome's Gregorian University. In 1955 he returned to his native Boston to take a position as associate dean and professor at Boston College Law School. He became dean of the law school until 1969, when he left to run for Congress. After besting a 14-term Member in the Democratic primary, Father Drinan sailed to victory to become the first Catholic priest to be elected as a voting Member of Congress. During his 10 years as a Member of the House of Representatives, Father Drinan was an active member of the House Judiciary Committee and brought the first resolution of impeachment against President Nixon. For years after he left office until his death he continued to write and teach as a professor at the Georgetown University Law School.
Mr. Speaker, during his time in Congress Father Drinan's dual role as priest and Representative personified the beauty of our constitutional underpinning of the separation of church and state. Using his priestly authority, he easily fit the mold of moral architect on efforts to end the war in Vietnam and to highlight abuses of human rights around the globe. However, he also disregarded church doctrine to faithfully represent the views of his ``pro-choice'' constituency on issues like abortion that rankled and angered many conservative Catholics.
Truly, Father Drinan was a beacon to follow for those of us who know the difficulties and challenges of having to fight for sometimes unpopular positions. He fought those fights all of his remarkable life that we will long remember.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the life of our former colleague and man of faith, Father Robert Drinan. I never had the honor to serve with Father Drinan in Congress, but the effects of his advocacy and leadership remain. In the years after he left Congress and contining through my election and service, I was encouraged and honored to have the friendship and counsel of Father Bob.
His life is unique in American history. He was the only Roman Catholic priest to be elected to Congress. He represented the best that we, as Members of Congress, can aspire to. Not bound to special interests or enticed by political gains, he truly cared about the people who had elected him and those around the globe who were persecuted or malnourished, who could be called ``the least of these.''
He was a passionate advocate for the poor and he called ending world hunger his ``number one passion.'' His opposition to the Vietnam war was the centerpiece of his 1970 campaign. Asked by a reporter for the Boston Globe why he decided to run for Congress, Father Drinan replied, ``Why? Why not. Jesuit priests have always been avant-garde. Right?''
Born in Boston on November 15, 1920, Father Drinan never strayed far from the city and people he loved. After earning his bachelor's degree at Boston College in 1942, he enrolled in the Society of Jesus. He completed his seminary work at Weston College, earned a master's degree from Boston College, and a law degree from Georgetown University. In 1953, Father Drinan was ordained and shortly thereafter completed his doctorate in theology from Gregorian University in Rome. As dean of the Boston College Law School, he transformed the institution into one of the premiere law schools in the country.
In 1980, when he left Congress, he returned as a teacher to Georgetown University Law School. It was there that he not only taught but wrote important works of scholarship and continued to serve as a moral compass to his students, government officials and all Americans. He was deeply interested in human rights, constitutional rights, civil liberties and ethics. Until the very end of his life he continued to celebrate Sunday evening mass with the law students he taught and loved.
It has been recalled recently that when asked about his decision to wear a clerical collar and a black suit, his standard reply was, ``It's the only suit I own.'' He was a sharp wit, but also a deeply moral man. Many current and former members have called Father Drinan ``the conscience of the House.'' Senator Edward Kennedy said of Father Drinan that, ``of all the hats he wore, none fit better than teacher, for he was a teacher to all of us.'' Father Drinan will be sadly missed by this institution and our Nation. I am glad that last year the House honored Father Drinan with the Distinguished Service Award for his decade of service in the House.
I knew Father Drinan best from his work as chairman on PeacePAC, a division of Council for a Livable World, and as director of the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation. He was a man who believed deeply in world peace and he struggled mightily to achieve it. He and the Council for a Livable World encouraged me when I first considered running for this office, and I will always remember their support and true belief that peace should be a goal of all Members of Congress.
In November of 2006, the Council for a Livable World established the Father Robert F. Drinan National Peace and Human Rights Award to be given annually by the council to the individual who best exemplifies Father Drinan's commitment to peace. As Father Drinan said at the unveiling of the award, ``people will be reminded that: you cannot just make war.'' He was right to oppose the Vietnam war and right to oppose the Iraq war. We can all learn from his life's commitment to peace.
Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia recently eulogized that, ``Bob Drinan never faltered, was never discouraged. It remains for all of us to carry on the work for which he prepared us, to build an earth in which justice will prevail.''
Mr. Speaker, let us carry the spirit of Father Drinan in our hearts as we in Congress continue to work to complete the work he called us to do.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the life of Father Robert F. Drinan, his enduring faith, and lifelong commitment to human rights. Father Drinan passed on January 28, 2007, at his residence in the Georgetown University Jesuit community in Washington, DC. He was 86 years old and had recently been ill with pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
Father Drinan was an unwavering defender of the civil and human rights of all Americans. His commitment to these principles was anchored by his religious conviction and a fundamental belief in the rights of all people to be respected and protected by their governments and elected leaders. It was this conviction that led Father Drinan to politics in 1970 when he sought a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his tenure in Congress, Father Drinan was an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War and was the first person to call for the impeachment of President Nixon. Father Drinan was re-elected four times, serving from 1971 until 1981. He stepped down in accordance with a directive from Pope John Paul II, barring priests from holding public office.
Father Drinan was the first Roman Catholic priest to serve as a voting member of the U.S. Congress. I had the honor of serving with him on the Judiciary Committee during the Watergate proceedings. He was a man of deep convictions, a passionate leader and a good friend. Long after he left Congress, Father Drinan continued to be a vocal supporter of human rights. Through his words and his actions he demanded morality in our political leadership. Ever committed to his work, Father Drinan spent the past 21 years as a professor at the Georgetown Law Center where he focused on legal ethics and international human rights.
We all mourn the loss of Father Robert F. Drinan, a man who committed his life to standing up for what he believed. He will be greatly missed.
I appreciate the indulgence of the House; I appreciate the Members who spoke and submitted information and material for this Record.
Mr. Speaker, I submit for printing in the Record the eulogies for Father Robert Drinan referred to previously.
John XXIII, in his great encyclical, Pacem in terris (1963), which was written exactly halfway through the course of Robert Drinan's life, has a passage which puts before us an important goal, the vision of a society of citizens exercising and claiming rights: It is agreed that in our time the common good is chiefly guaranteed when personal rights and duties are maintained. . . If any government does not acknowledge the rights of man or violates them, it not only fails in its duty, but its order completely lack juridical force.'' Pacem in terris (60-61) A society built on the practice of rights is not so sweetly transcendent as the holy mountain of feasting and joy which Isaiah summons up for us; it is not so intimately and delicately responsive as the virtue of charity or agape which St. Paul commends to us. But it is essential to the realization of the common good in a world which is marked by enormous human diversity and intermittently intense social conflict. It is a reality which protects those of us who are neither beasts nor angels from our own worst impulses and from the harms which others would do to us. It is the not the realm of the best but of the imperfect good and the necessary. It has been the favored realm of Anglo-American jurisprudence and a refuge for those who suffered from brutal and destructive social experiments carried on in the name of ideology and religion. It is a realm which Robert Drinan, as a distinguished American lawyer and professor of law, and John Courtney Murray, the great American theologian, valued and commended to other Catholics, especially for its affirmation of religious liberty. It is a realm of ideas which has enabled Catholicism to flourish in this country and which has taught Catholicism important lessons about the theory and practice of human rights, a cause to which Bob Drinan devoted enormous amounts of his apparently inexhaustible energy and many years of that life whose end we now mourn. It is a realm which always needs to be defended, but especially in times of fear and uncertainty when false prophets would persuade us that the magnitude of some threat justifies the overriding of those rights which constitute the core of our liberty. It is a realm which we as Americans have been anxious to extend, perhaps even beyond the limits of our capabilities. In taking up the causes of South African victims of apartheid, of Soviet Jews, of the disenfranchised in Central America and the disappeared in the Southern Cone, and of the Muslims of Darfur, and in arguing for effective judicial protection for universal human rights, our friend Robert was preaching the same values and ways of thinking as he did in opposing segregation and capital punishment and protecting civil liberties in this country. For the most part, his advocacy of human rights harmonized with the social and moral teaching of the Catholic church. But it must be acknowledged that on the immensely painful subject of abortion there was sharp conflict, a conflict which I wish neither to minimize nor to revisit but only to put into a larger context of common concern for the well- being of women and children in a society wracked by moral disagreement. This point also reminds us that the notion of human rights is not transparent in its content but is often used to express profound conflicts in a common legal language. It is not what Bob would call a MIGA, it does not ``make it go away.'' In the matter of abortion, it is important to remember that a decisive point of disagreement for many Catholic politicians is about the appropriate limits of state action and about the attainability of a stable democratic consensus on a matter on which the major religious and philosophical traditions reach conflicting conclusions, not about the moral issue in itself or about Catholic teaching. The shape of legislation can be a matter for prudential disagreement, not an issue of faithfulness. Three years after Bob began his career in Congress, Roe v. Wade turned abortion from a contested legal issue to a divisive political issue. This he had to live through, for in addition to being an advocate for human rights, he was also a practicing politician. This, in combination with his priesthood, was the feature of his life which most attracted the attention of the media and the general public. It was also what made him particularly significant to his colleagues; for here was a moral and religious leader who was ready to walk the walk and talk the talk of politics with them. In fact, it became clear to everyone that he enjoyed doing so and that he was very good at it. In listening to comments from various of Bob's colleagues over the years, I heard a gratitude and a pride which arose from the fact that he as a priest was ready to work alongside them in the demanding though often derided task of legislation in a modern democracy. This is an indispensable and noble contribution to our common life, a vocation in itself. Bob had the vision and the grace to combine two difficult vocations in a way which strengthened the commitment and the morale of his colleagues. His ability to do this was a consequence of the fact that he lived what he was doing as the work of justice, not merely the ambitious pursuit of a career. The contribution which he made as a priest in politics was a suitable prelude to the work of his later years in promoting the study of legal ethics and in founding the Journal of Legal Ethics here at the Georgetown University Law Center. Events of the last twenty years have presented a series of disillusioning crises which have created widespread public demands for reform of the profession and a continuing need for careful scholarship and prudent judgment. This was a work in which Bob could find a happy convergence of his professional and priestly roles. It also provided an academic and professional counterpart to the concern he always had for the growth and the well being of those aides whom he called his ``minions'' and whom he enjoyed for the generous energy which they brought to political life. This energy was, of course, their imitation of and response to his own enormous energy and sharpness of focus. If Robert Drinan, was like Christ and all Christians, a grain of wheat destined to fall into the earth and die, as today's Gospel reminds us, he has born much fruit in those supporters and aides and in the generations of students who cherished him as one of the most remarkable teachers they ever had and who have been filling up the web page at the Law Center with testimony to his impact and his dedication. But the underlying unity of the incredible amount of work he did as teacher, writer, speaker, political leader was his commitment to his identity as a member of the Society of Jesus and as a Catholic priest. When he was confronted with a very stark and public choice, he made it clear what his own priorities were. This may have puzzled and pained many of his friends and colleagues, but it made it clear that his commitment to the work of justice in the law and in politics was truly an expression of his response to the love of God, a response which affirmed that love and justice are indeed bound together, but that neither requires a particular office or role, that at the center of his being he would be God's faithful servant first, last, and always and that this meant he would continue to be a very American, very pragmatic idealist, an advocate of the society of right in which the work of justice still needed the dedication and guidance of one who would remain priest and prophet. I do not know what purgatory will be like for Bob. He would dismiss any form of physical suffering or infirmity as a trivial restraint on the desire of his heart for the good and an empty distraction from the important work to be done, as he did in the year before his death. I surmise that the central part of his purgatory will be accepting that he has indeed arrived in a jurisdiction where justice can be attained without lawyers and where the administration is reliably good and beyond impeachment. But I cannot imagine that this will be a long or traumatic episode. Through his eighty-six years he learned much and gave much to his students, is colleagues, his country, and to his community of vocation and choice, the Society of Jesus. As a result, so many of us mourn him and look to him as an iconic and exemplary figure, a man in whom the religious and political issues of our age came together fruitfully, if not always happily. We salute a life well lived for the good of others. We recognize a Catholic son of New England, who learned Protestant virtues and institutions and who came to share Jewish joys and sorrows, and who in consequence became more comprehensively Catholic and more universally human. We give thanks for a man of talent who seized opportunities to serve and a man of peace who was not afraid of conflict. We give praise for a friend who gave generously of his time and his knowledge to so many of us even while he remained splendidly and eccentrically himself. But in this task of capturing Bob's special union of the vitally personal and the universally good, the deeply Christian and the proudly American, I will give the last and best word to our fellow Jesuit, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who wrote in 1881 this sonnet:
- February 7, 2007
- January 29, 2007
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- December 5, 2006
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