In Catholic theology, the term scandal has a very specific meaning, that's usually lost on the outside population and the overwhelming majority of Catholics. The Catechism -- or, as liberal Catholics would have it, "that silly rule-summary-thing" -- identifies scandal thus:
2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.(Emphasis added.) And that brings us to Hell's newest permanent resident: Robert Drinan.
2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing.
2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to "social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible." This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!"
A more vicious, nastier human being has rarely lived -- not because he was a lawyer (although that's a good first step); not because he voted for, and avidly supported, the Evil Party (also a good step); and not because he was John Kerry's nominally Catholic shield during the 2004 campaign (y'know, these parentheticals are beginning to add up...).
Robert Drinan is as surely in Hell right now as I will be someday, for the evil he effected, directly through his own acts, and indirectly through the scandal he flouted with his every public act.
Let's begin with the obvious. The Silly-Rule-Summary-Thing has a great deal to say about deliberately induced abortion, and none of it is nice. You'll note something about excommunication by nature of the act itself. You may, if you read very carefully, even note some stuff taken from or inspired by that John Paul II-created, fascist document, the Didache, stuff like "The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined."
For this -- for one of the oldest teachings of the Church of whom he was nominally a priest, for the words that should have been a lifeblood given his nominal Order -- Drinan had nothing but contempt.
Conservative Catholics are often accused, by the
Protestants who sit in our pews and pretend to be Catholic more liberal of our brethren, of whom Robert Drinan was one, of being obsessed with abortion, and overlooking issues like poverty, general social and economic justice, and burning topics like whether we should have married priests. What they -- let's be kind -- forget is that, putting to the side that the second sin in the Bible was a murder, that, to use Lockean language, life is the prerequisite right from which all other rights flow. Put differently, no one cares about insufficient housing if he's dead. The unshaken -- all too often ignored, but unchanged -- rule of the Catholic Church has been that deliberate murder of an innocent human life (and, explicitly, therefore abortion) is "gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere."
And this -- one of the cornerstones of our nominally shared Faith -- he flouted. He derided, and called "no great thing." He praised President Clinton's veto of the partial birth abortion ban -- and thereby defended a practice so awful that even Supreme Court justices recognize its evil. And he did this from a position of authority. He did it as a prominent Congressman and former Congressman; as a priest (and a well-known one); as a law professor; and as a public activist. He defended the murder of the unborn day after day, and did so from authority; for that scandal alone, our Fallen world is cleaner for his absence.
That's the easy part. Then, there's this:
He grew up in Hyde Park and was educated at Boston College when it was a small school atop the heights of Chestnut Hill. He became a Jesuit, got his law degree at Georgetown, and became dean of the BC Law School in 1956 as it was moving from a downtown location to a new building near the college. He could have been content to let the law school serve a Catholic population in more spacious surroundings, but he had greater ambitions.I see nothing wrong with a law school open to students of all faiths, colors, and sexes. I can overlook someone being pretentious enough to use "inclusivity" instead of "inclusiveness"; I think we can safely assume that the Faculty of Boston College recently formally decided that the former word is now doubleplusgood. The crime for which Drinan must answer is being one of the breakers of higher-level Catholic education in this country. Georgetown is as Catholic as Boston College, which is to say, as Catholic as Adolf Hitler (who had been Catholic until he was ten! Seriously! That proves the Holocaust was a Catholic event!). The degradation of the Catholic model of education -- to the point where there are Hemlock Society, Communist Party, and NARAL chapters on nominally Catholic campuses -- is a more pervasive (if not so grave) sin against humankind, and a more direct one than all his blathering and activism combined. Catholic universities, as a rule, are now neither. For this, Robert Drinan bears at least part of the blame.
"He stood for inclusivity, opening up the law school to faculty and students of all faiths, colors, and genders," professor Sanford Katz said in a telephone interview yesterday. Drinan set up a presidential scholars program to attract top students from around the country. He established the law review and a legal aid clinic in Waltham to help the poor. He was in the vanguard of those who transformed Boston College into a national institution.
I could go on, for days, if not weeks -- and I think there is a credible argument that his calls for the abandonment of the many Catholic and Buddhist South Vietnamese to the death camps, and his votes to do the same, will weigh on his soul at Judgment -- but suffice it to say we are well-rid of the man.
To Hell with you, old man. I'll be seeing you there soon enough.