On March 7, 2011, the Boston College Law School is scheduled to hold an event honoring the late Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J., who supported abortion rights in Congress. The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has written to the president of Boston College, Father William Leahy, S.J., urging him to cancel the event and to develop speaker policies which will prevent such scandals in the future.
[Update 2/18/11: It has come to the attention of The Cardinal Newman Society that in 1997, Fr. Drinan withdrew his statements supporting Clinton’s veto of partial-birth abortion. The Boston Globe reported on May 17, 1997, that Fr. Drinan said, “I withdraw those statements and any statement that could be understood to cast doubt on the church’s firm condemnation of abortion – a doctrine I totally support.” Unfortunately, Fr. Drinan did not, to our knowledge, recant or apologize for his many years of legislative support for legal abortion.]
The text of the CNS letter, sent today by mail and email, is below:
Dear Father Leahy:
According to a report dated February 17 in The Boston College Chronicle, an official publication of the College, “the life and work of Robert Drinan, S.J. …will be celebrated at a BC law event next month.”
It is reported that on March 7, the Law School will host a panel discussion featuring Father Raymond Schroth, S.J.—who has publicly supported pro-abortion rights politicians—to promote his new book on Father Drinan. The event will also feature U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, whose opposition to Catholic moral teaching in his personal life and in public policy is well known. He is a strident defender of legal abortion and has voted in opposition to clear Church teachings on the sanctity of traditional marriage.
As you know, Father Drinan was notorious for his service as a congressman from Massachusetts. He voted against several measures to ban federal funding of abortions and, in 1996, his articles in the National Catholic Reporter and the New York Times supported President Bill Clinton’s veto of a common-sense ban on the barbaric procedure known as partial-birth abortion. Throughout his long career as a prominent priest, Father Drinan was scandalously reliable for his consistent and public support of abortion laws, in direct contradiction to clear Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life.
Whatever Father Drinan’s contributions to Boston College over the years, and despite his perhaps laudable efforts on other human rights issues, his record on abortion should disqualify him from any honors by a Catholic institution. To celebrate his legacy is a public dishonor to the souls of the millions slaughtered in the name of “choice.” It would also seem to be a flagrant violation of the U.S. bishops’ 2004 ban on honors for those who are publicly opposed to Church teachings.
Father Leahy, on behalf of the members of The Cardinal Newman Society—including not a small number of BC alumni—and so many of the faithful working every day to end the scourge of abortion, I prayerfully urge you to cancel this event immediately and to develop policies for Boston College that ensure that future honors conform to both the bishops’ sensible 2004 honors policy and Ex corde Ecclesiae. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, ora pro nobis.
Patrick J. Reilly