An internationally known human-rights advocate, Drinan represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House for 10 years during the turbulent 1970s, and he stepped down only after a worldwide directive from Pope John Paul II barring priests from holding public office.
He was elected in 1970, after he beat longtime Democratic Rep. Philip J. Philbin in a primary -- and again in the November election, when Philbin was a write-in candidate. The only other priest to serve in Congress was a nonvoting delegate from Michigan in 1823.
Although a poll at the time showed that 30 percent of the voters in his district thought it was improper for a priest to run for office, Drinan considered politics a natural extension of his work in public affairs and human rights.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
ROBERT DRINAN, 86
Drinan was the first Roman Catholic priest to serve as a voting member of Congress. From an Associated Press report:
Drinan left Congress in 1980.