Nearer My God to Thee

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 23, 2006

McDonough and Bianchi's sympathetic sociological study of American Jesuits, published in 2002 and titled Passionate Uncertainty, found the contemporary Society of Jesus to be an association of talented but directionless bachelors. They wrote:

What has come close to disappearing is the distinctiveness of the priestly role as conceived by Jesuits and, to a lesser extent, of the moral sanctum of Catholicism. Much of what Jesuits do remains valuable. Much of what they believe in and stand for is appreciated and shared by adherents of neighboring religions and ethical traditions. But there seems to be less and less that sets the Society of Jesus apart, at least with respect to an edge on the truth or expertise in pedagogy, social action, and pastoral practice. Obliteration by assimilation has become a real threat.

As with a palace guard that no longer believes in the monarchy, the post-ecclesial Jesuits have been in search of a reason to exist. For many in the U.S., the Democratic Party has filled the void left by the Catholic Church: indeed they tend to pay the former the compliments once understood to be due the latter. No man better illustrates this change of pieties than Father Robert Drinan, S.J., the American Abortionist's Favorite Catholic, who as a congressman from 1970 to 1980 did more than any other individual to push his fellow Democratic officeholders to the extreme abortion-on-demand position. Today's issue of the Boston College student newspaper, reports on a lecture in which Drinan indulgences in some self-congratulatory jesuitry Ad Majorem Democraticorum Gloriam:

Drinan discussed the Catholic viewpoints on multiple issues, illustrating how their stances are often in agreement with those of the Democratic Party.

On the problem of poverty, the Catholic belief in the preferential option for the poor claims that everyone is responsible for helping the poor, he said. Still, many Catholics, like people of all religions, forget about this duty when they become wealthy, he said. "They don't care about the preferential option for the poor. They don't want their taxes to go up anymore. They should know better than that."

Another duty of the Catholics, he said, is to abolish war and violence, which is almost never justifiable. He discussed the hypocritical nature of the United States for claiming to promote peace while supplying the world with two-fifths to two-thirds of all its weapons.

On the issue of gay marriage, he described a Catholic woman whose son announced that he was gay at age 24. "This woman said, 'God made Joey that way, and I won't love him less.'"

On religion and God in the public sphere, Catholic Democrats do not have a firm position, he said. The Catholic bishops propose a compromise between an absence of religion and the level of religion that evangelicals vie for in the public sphere, said Drinan. "Of course we want God, religious values in public life somehow, in a way consistent with our tradition and our constitution." Democrats are not a party of atheists, but a party trying to be fair to every citizen, including the 100 million Americans without any religious affiliation, he said.

I liked this bit:

Drinan closed with St. Ignatius' three questions: "What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ?"

Perhaps unsurprisingly, no mention is made in the article of the Democratic Party's abortion stance or Drinan's key role in its crafting. As a congressman, Drinan had a nearly perfect pro-abortion voting record, and after he was forced to leave continued to work to torpedo pro-life efforts. In 1996, Drinan published an op-ed in the New York Times attacking the bill that banned partial birth abortion, praising President Clinton for vetoing it, and urging the Senate to uphold Clinton's veto. He succeeded.

Drinan, who was the first congressman to call for the impeachment of Nixon, began with an overview of Democratic presidents in recent history. He noted that many of them transformed the nation and the world. "When I look back at what the Democrats did over the last century, I'm very proud," he said.

There speaks a man who accomplished what he set out to do.

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