UNBORN WORD of the day

Father Robert Drinan, the Kennedys and the Genesis of U.S. Catholic pro-abortion politicians
September 2, 2008, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Pro-life

A funeral was held at St. Aloysius Church on Thursday, February 1, 2007 for former congressman Fr. Robert Drinan. Eulogists included Senator Edward Kennedy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Rev. Drinan was a Roman Catholic priest who served in the House of Representatives from 1971-1981. Excerpts from these Eulogies

Last week in a post entitled: The Catholic priest who killed the soul of the Democratic Party we talked about Father Robert Drinan’s deadly influence on Catholic politicians. Here is another account of how Father Drinan and the Kennedy family actually planned a strategy that would allow Catholics to support abortion when Robert Kennedy was running for the U.S. Senate in New York in 1964. The account would sound like a conspiracy theory except that it is well sourced from other priests who actually attended the meeting. We have also added three other sources at the end of the account (one from the Boston Globe) which talks about this 1964 meeting.

Here is an account of the meeting from Paul Likoudis in an article entitled Pro-Abortion Congressman Father Robert Drinan Dies in D. C. At 86:
Drinan came into political prominence in 1964, when he was asked to participate at a meeting in Hyannisport with Senator Edward Kennedy, with Robert Kennedy, then considering a run for the U.S. Senate from New York, and with leading [dissident] Catholic theologians. The point of the meeting was to formulate a “Catholic”position on government support for national and international birth control programs.

His [Drinan’s] role was disclosed by former Jesuit Albert Jonsen in the Joseph P. Kennedy Institute’s Ethics Journal, voL 4, no. 1 (1994) in an article entitled, “Theological Ethics, Moral Philosophy and Public Moral Discourse.” “In July 1964, Fr. Joseph Fuchs, SJ. a renowned [dissident] Catholic moral theologian and a professor at the Gregorian University in Rome, was among the guest faculty of an ethics course I was teaching at the Summer School of the University of San Francisco. Walking across campus one morning, Fr. Fuchs hailed me and told me that he had, on the previous day, received a phone call inviting him to join several other leading theologians in a meeting with Senator Ted Kennedy and Robert Kennedy at Hyannisport.

“Robert Kennedy was running for the New York Senate seat, and the Kennedy family and their political advisers wished to discuss the position that a Catholic politician should take on abortion. “Fr. Fuchs then astonished me by saying that since he knew nothing of American politics, he wanted me to accompany him. If I would agree, he would accept the invitation on the condition that I come as his companion. I agreed and they agreed.

Two days later, the distinguished German theologian and the American novice traveled to Cape Cod to join Catholic theologians Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School [dissident] Richard McCormick; [dissident] Charles Curran; and a bishop whose name I do not recall; as well as Andre Hellegers, an obstetrician and a fetal physiologist who was to be the technical adviser… “Our colloquium at Hyannisport, as I recall it… reached the conclusion that Catholic politicians in a democratic polity might advocate legal restriction on abortion, but in so doing might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances, if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order. This position, which, of course, is much more nuanced than I have stated, seems to have informed the politics of the Kennedys.”

Another Jesuit in on the Hyannisport meeting was Giles Milhaven, who recounted at a breakfast briefing for Catholicsfor a Free Choice, on September 14, 1984: “Having been asked to make a presentation this morning on Catholic options in public policy on abortion, I cannot but recall the last time I was invited to do so. It was 15 years ago [note: at least 16, since Robert Kennedy was murdered in 1968]. I remember vividly, Other theologians and I were driving down Route 3 to Cape Cod, with Bob Drinan at the wheel. We were to meet the Senators Kennedy and the Shrivers at their request. “I remember it vividly because the traffic lanes were jammed and halted, presumably because of an accident ahead, and Bob Drinan drove 60 miles an hour down the breakdown lane. Despite my misgivings each time we swept around a curve, we theologians arrived safely at the Kennedy compound.

“The theologians worked for a day and a half among ourselves at a nearby hotel. In the evening, we answered questions from the Kennedys and the Shrivers. Though the theologians disagreed on many a point, they concurred on certain basics. These include statements which I will make shortly. What was striking then and remains striking today is the difference between what [some] Catholic theologians say about abortion and what the Catholic Hierarchy say on the same subject …[In] flat contradiction to the Pope and the bishops in certain situations abortion is morally licit and may even be obligatory. ” [Yes, you read that right]. Internet source: Pastor’s Page By Fr. George Welzbacher.

Here are other sources which give an account of this meeting:

Separation anxiety – John Kerry’s religion problem — and the Catholic Democrat who can help him solve it. by Scott Stossel | May 23, 2004Boston Globe

Ted Kennedy’s Good Fortune by Thomas F. Roeser, Chicago Daily Observer, May 27, 2008

The Politics of Abortion, Anne Hendershott

How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma by Anne Hendershott

11 Comments so far
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This is a great idea for a blog. I viewed a few articles and I like what I see. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a political junkie. There are many politicians, both Democrat and Republican, that are pro-life. However, I hope for more politicians that embrace an even wider pro-life and pro-human message- working for the rights of the poor, for workers, for better access to health care, for environmental protection, for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other diseases…There are so many issues under the scope of Catholic social teaching and building the common good.

I am a novice of the Basilian Fathers (Congregation of St. Basil) and hope to become a priest within about 6 years. A little over a year ago, I visited the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, where wonderful work is done in a community of nations where the Church is one of the most (arguably the most) effective and consistent voices. On my blog, http://www.catholiccanada.wordpress.com, I posted 6 articles about my visit as part of a student delegation.

I really like your ‘Unborn Word’ theme. My next article, which I am working on now, will be on the Christology (study of who Christ is) of the Gospel of Luke, focusing on Luke 9:1-22. It’s part of my ongoing study of the Gospel of Luke on my blog. Of course, the Lucan revelation of who Jesus is begins with the pre-infancy narrative. My next article will include some reflection on the Annunciation and Visitation stories. Jesus is known to Elizabeth and also to Mary via the Archangel Gabriel before He is born. This has been called the great pro-life part of Luke’s Gospel, although the Gospels in general are all about life and the ultimate good of all humankind.

Thank you for this site and may God Bless you!


Comment by canadiancatholicblog

Thanks Warren,
I am a bit of a political junkie too but actually the blog is usually non-political. Nancy Pelosi’s misstatement about the Church’s teaching on abortion got me going. That is when I decided to go into the Father Drinan mess. My husband and I have been involved in the pro-life movement since 1973 when he co-founded a Pro-life group at the University of Waterloo. I figure some who are newer to pro-life work wouldn’t know this history so I felt the need to bring it up to show how we got in this mess (Catholic politicians supporting abortion).

The pro-life politicians post was a repost from April. When McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate I decided to repost it. I am a big fan of pro-life Sarah Palin – so the pick by John McCain was a delight for me.

The Unborn Christ Child is our favorite topic, (my husband and I take turns writing the posts) so it is great to hear of others interested in writing on this topic.


Comment by unbornwordoftheday


Thanks for your reply. The more I visit your blog, the more I enjoy it. I have included your site in my blogroll.

On the political side, Sarah Palin was an unknown quantity to most before being selected as McCain’s presumptive running mate, although she could be an important figure in western Canada, let alone in Alaska, because of her support for oil exploration and a pipeline project that would involve the westernmost provinces of Canada, British Columbia and Alberta. Canada could benefit from an economic boom, but there are ecological concerns, too.

I say this because, although my novitiate is in Windsor, Ontario (on the border next to Detroit), I am a native of Edmonton, Alberta. Sarah Palin has been mentioned in that oil-rich province, also because of her heroic (in my view) decision to keep her Down syndrome baby, Trig. In the U.S., and likely the statistics are similar in Canada, 80% of Down syndrome children are aborted.

Palin has been vilified lately in liberal media in Canada. While this could be construed as just differences of opinion, some of the articles on blogs, in newspapers, and on television have been irresponsible and downright malicious. As a Canadian, I don’t have a vote for U.S. President, but I’m following the campaign with interest.

On a pro-life note, your reply to my comment touched on your husband’s foundation of a pro-life group at the University of Waterloo. Is this the Canadian University of Waterloo, in Ontario, or is this school in the U.S.? Anyway, I follow the cause of pro-life groups on campuses in Canada especially, where they have had their message diluted or have been shut down by several clearly pro-abortion universities.

Arguably, pro-lifers have a worse plight in Canada; our country has no abortion law since it was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada, whose justices cited ‘security of the person’ under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution to strike down the Criminal Code requirement from 1968 that a woman seek three doctors’ consent to terminate a pregnancy. This year Canada’s father of abortion, Henry Morgentaler, a former Nazi prisoner who was incarcerated in Canada in 1969 for illegally performing abortions in Montreal, was awarded an Order of Canada, the highest civilian order in the country, for providing ‘increased health-care options for women.’ That is sickening!

University students have an important role in countering the abuse of power by morally-permissive elites in both the U.S. and Canada. As president of the Newman Club at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, I encouraged co-operation and discussion between our group and Campus Pro-Life, which was just being started up again after a brief absence.

Anyway, I apologize for another lengthy comment. Your blog, with a Catholic message, energizes me and hopefully many others. Many unborn childen will live to jump for joy in their mothers’ wombs! (cf. Luke 1:44) I hope you and your husband are very successful in spreading the pro-life message. I will keep you in my prayers. Blessings,


Comment by canadiancatholicblog

Dear Warren,
Thank you for your prayers and may God bless you in your vocation. We are grateful to the young men like you who are open to giving their lives to God and the Church. We need good priests.

I haven’t had a chance to look at your website except briefly but will take a longer look in the next day or too. It is great that you want to reach out to the greater community – I know that there are quite a few priest and seminarian blogs out there. That is thrilling to see. Keep up the good work.

Yes, George was Canadian and went to the University of Waterloo and McGill University. I met him when my father was transferred to Montreal with his work. We have lived in the U.S. for the last 26 years and George became an U.S. citizen over ten years ago.

Thank you for your kind words about the blog. We also have a website http://www.unbornwordalliance.com which might interest you. It is also dedicated to Unborn Jesus and the Gospel of Life.


Comment by unbornwordoftheday

Hello Warren. I am an artist, a former protestant minister of about 20 years and decidedly not a political junkie but I am so pleased to have discovered a fellow Canadian Catholic blogging. I’ve got your RSS in my reader and will begin to follow you.

Michele, this is an excellent series. I was just watching an op ed clip on realcatholictv.com which spoke about the importance of being just one vote in the senate away (with a win from the McCain/Palin team) from reversing the travesty of the past 30 plus years.

Comment by Owen

CIA #2…

My blog readers will be interested in your post so added a trackback to it on CatholicTide…

Trackback by Catholic Tide

[…] a loyal pro-choice vote in Congress the moment the ink dried on Roe v. Wade, and there is also some good evidence that his pro-choice stance dates as far back as 1964. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that […]

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Pingback by Catholics Keep Abortion Legal | CatInfor.com

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