Of Nancy Pelosi, Father Drinan and Alma Mater
by Mary Ann Kreitzer
New Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and I share a common bond. We both call Trinity College in Washing-ton, D.C. (now a university) our alma mater. Pelosi graduated in 1962; I finished six years later. We’ve never met, but no doubt had some of the same teachers in the core curriculum. Trinity helped form our beliefs and convictions for good or ill.
My mom was eager for me to attend her beloved Trinity. She graduated class of 1939 and often spoke of her high regard for the nuns and visiting priests who taught there. She had no idea when she encouraged me to spend four years under “the red roof” how different the experience would be from her own. Trinity in the ‘60s showed much of the same turmoil as the culture at large. U.S. intervention in Vietnam was on the rise. The pill had made its debut. Rock and roll, hippies, and the drug culture were in full swing. It was an endless party with no parents.
Trinity could have been a rock in the cultural storm helping young women to hold the line against immodesty, promiscuity, and moral decadence. (Women have always been the civilizers of men as George Gilder argued in his excellent book Sexual Suicide.) Instead, Trinity, already losing her Catholic identity, embraced the world. Within a few years the nuns would simplify their habits then drop them altogether along with their religious names. Student dress codes and supervision would be relaxed. But worse than shedding the outward sign value of their habit and letting students supervise themselves, they abandoned the true faith and invited moral relativism into the marble halls.
No doubt Trinity helped prepare the soil of Nancy’s soul to germinate the deadly seeds of choice. Trinity was good at forming heretics in that period of history. I know from personal experience. I entered Trinity a devout but naïve Catholic girl who trusted every professor. Instead of becoming more grounded in doctrine I was scandalized and transformed into a modernist heretic rooted in situation ethics. Sad to say, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur still ran the administration. The day of the lay president came later. It was vowed religious who allowed the scandalous theology courses and outrageous retreat by a heretic priest. Fr. James Kavanagh was a man of the times mirroring the rebellion that would soon sweep the Church when Pope Paul VI released Humanae Vitae. Author of A Modern Priest Looks at his Outdated Church, Fr. Kavanagh worked the crowd like a stand-up comic telling irreverent jokes and stories that ridiculed the faith. Not long after that performance he left the Church to marry, another vow he wouldn’t keep. How many Trinity girls heard his siren song and followed him?
Fortunately for me grace intervened when I met my husband and we began to think about marriage and a family. I returned to the faith not quite as foolish as when I left. Nancy doesn’t appear to be so fortunate. Her body stayed in the Church, but her mind and will joined the world. She praises Trinity for her liberal arts education. A truly Catholic education would have served us both better.
Over the years Trinity’s Alumnae Journal and President (since ’89) Patricia McGuire have wasted buckets of ink idolizing pro-abortion Trinity grads like Pelosi; Barbara Kennelly (’58), former Senator from Connecticut; Kathleen Sebelius (’70), Governor of Kansas; Margaret Williams (‘77), Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff; and other executive women who’ve shattered the glass ceiling. McGuire uses feminist terms like “empowerment” of women. There’s little evidence from reading her blog and her articles that she is much concerned with empowering faithful Catholic women. Perhaps she’s forgotten the admonition “What does it profit a [wo]man to gain the whole world and lose [her] soul.”
Pelosi returned to our alma mater January 3 to play church during her coronation festivities as Speaker of the House. What a photo op! Catholic mom and grandma returns to the ivory tower of her youth to attend a Mass “for the children.” Those who support abortion always talk about their love for “the children” – in this case those of Darfur and those impacted by hurricane Katrina.
Celebrant and homilist for the Mass was Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J., whose career was steeped in the blood of unborn babes. He and Nancy were mutual admirers. (She eulogized him at his funeral service held February 1 at St. Aloysius Church not far from Capitol Hill.) So what’s the record of the man who came to anoint the new speaker? A law professor, who taught at both Boston College and Georgetown, he was elected to Congress in 1971 and remained there until 1981 when Rome ordered him to step down or leave the priesthood. He obeyed. What good is dissent if you’ve lost your pulpit?
During his tenure on the hill Drinan was the consummate politician proclaiming his support for Church teaching to pro-life constituents while criticizing to pro-aborts the “small element” in the Church trying to “impose its views” on the nation. Drinan publicly supported Roe v. Wade and voted for almost every pro-abortion bill that came to the floor. Later he defended Bill Clinton’s veto of the partial birth abortion ban, an action that brought a stinging rebuke from New York’s John Cardinal O’Connor. “You’re wrong, dead wrong. You could have raised your formidable voice for life; you have raised it for death.”
Drinan’s pro-abortion credentials were extensive. In 1996 historian James Hitchcock wrote an article, The Strange Political Career of Fr. Drinan, calling him “perhaps the single most reliable supporter of abortion ‘rights’” during his years in Congress. Hitchcock went on to say, “even before the Supreme Court decision he had supported, with increasing passionate intensity, every proposal to make the procedure legal and to fund it with tax money.”
In 2002 the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Doctrinal Note on Catholics in political life saying “those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life[emphasis in original]. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.” A handful of bishops acted on the note, making statements and even denying Communion to pro-abort politicians. This outraged Drinan who called the prelates “out of line” and compared them to the Inquisition.
Drinan provided cover for hundreds of pro-abortion Catholic politicians who could point to him and claim to be “personally opposed, but…,” politicians like his pal Nancy Pelosi. In preparing for the Mass at Trinity, President McGuire said Drinan was “eager to be sure that Nancy received appropriate recognition for her achieve-ment.” In his homily he too waxed eloquent about children. “Today at this moving and unforgettable Mass we gather to pray, to reflect and once again commit our lives to carrying out the faith we have that the needs of every child are the needs of Jesus Christ himself. We cannot forget Christ's personal love of children and his affirmation that ‘whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren you do for me.’” Except, of course, the unborn.
Such blatant hypocrisy, sure to trigger every pro-lifer’s gag reflex, was lost on McGuire who apparently saw no irony in Drinan and Pelosi’s expression of love for children while they support aborting the “least” ones at any time during pregnancy for any reason. McGuire wrote a gushing tribute on her Trinity blog after Drinan’s death January 29 with a link to the hypocritical homily.
Near the end of his sermon Drinan made an almost laughable statement. “It is depressing to realize” he said, “that only 18 percent of America's children are registered in Head Start.” With all his degrees was he really unaware that abortion preys on the poor, that children whose families are eligible for Head Start are the very ones targeted by Planned Parenthood? Many who could have gone to Head Start died before birth in the nation’s abortion mills.
In her eulogy for Drinan, Pelosi made some equally ironic statements. “Fr. Drinan lived and legislated accor-ding to an expansive view of the Gospel,” she said, “believing that it had something to teach us about the whole range of public policy – from war and peace, to poverty and justice, to how we treat our children....” Pelosi described being “honored” that Drinan celebrated the Trinity Mass. He “challenged us,” she recalled, “saying, ‘Imagine what the world would think of the United States if the health and welfare of children everywhere became the top objective of America’s foreign policy!’” This coming from one who consistently votes to kill the children of the Third World!
Pelosi made another telling statement when she said she knew Fr. Drinan “was happy to know that [his old congressional] district [was] in the good hands of Barney Frank." Frank gained notoriety when the media exposed the fact that his partner Stephen Gobie was running a gay prostitution ring out of their Georgetown home. Pelosi’s gratuitous praise for a proud sodomite was another in-your-face rebellion against Church teaching. Needless to say, she also supports “gay marriage.”
Pelosi finished by describing the advice Drinan gave to a group of his law school students. “Go forth into society not as mere legal tradesmen, but as moral architects. Design, create and build a better and more equitable society and use your skills to help those who are otherwise not being served.” It could have been the speech of a pro-life lawyer instead of an architect of the culture of death.
After the Trinity Mass Drinan sent Pelosi a letter asking her to enter his homily into the Congressional Record, the Hill’s official daily report of proceedings and debates. It was perhaps his last act of hubris. The story reminds me of another architect of death, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who was the voice behind Roe v. Wade. As he lay dying in 1997, one of his last requests was to have his funeral Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. rather than his humble parish church, Our Lady of Lourdes in Arlington. It’s chilling to think that as they faced eternity these two champions of abortion focused their last thoughts on the desire for human honor. Unfortunately, many bishops enable the worldly instead of calling them to repent in the face of God’s judgment.
Which brings me to a final point. Those who publicly advocate and work for the murder of the innocent while they speak tender words about “the children” are in danger of hell fire. That is a simple fact. And yet when pro-lifers begged Archbishop Donald Wuerl to prevent Nancy Pelosi from receiving Communion at Trinity he refused. [See The Twilight Zone] Like so many of his confreres, he is a lion when it comes to verbalizing Church teaching, but a mouse when it comes to governing. The same is true of Pelosi’s local bishop in San Francisco, George Niederauer. In an interview with radio station KCBS February 4 Archbishop Niederauer avoided any direct answer on Catholic responsibility to accept Church teaching, particularly with regard to abortion. Dancing around the issue, the archbishop discussed the difficulty some might have with accepting one teaching or another. His response seemed to confuse reporter Rebecca Corral who asked, “But what does that mean?” The bishop rambled on concluding, “The dialogue is what’s important.” When the two reporters tried to pin him down about Pelosi and whether she should receive Communion he answered, “When I…distribute Communion, I…am counting on the individual communicant who’s coming forward…to decide whether he or she is worthy…. I am not there principally as a gatekeeper. I am there as a priest and a celebrant to give forth the Eucharist.” This supports the view of the priest as sacramental vending machine.
Reporter Ed Cavignaro pressed the archbishop on the Pelosi question asking, “[Pelosi] is not only pro-choice but she would be someone who would be working to keep abortion legal. In your view is she less of a Catholic because of that?” The bishop, sounding uncomfortable, avoided the question altogether in a rambling reply. “Well, I have met on one occasion with Speaker Pelosi, before she was Speaker Pelosi. It was last year. And I -- we’ve -- exchanged viewpoints on a number of things. At that time, it was last spring, and it was principally about immigration, because that was very much the hot-button topic of the time. We haven’t had an opportunity to talk about the life issues. I would very much welcome that opportunity, but I don’t believe that I am in a position to say what I understand her stand to be, if I haven’t had a chance to talk to her about it.” The bishop further muddied the waters by bringing up the death penalty implying its equivalence to abortion. Uninformed listeners could easily conclude that, since Pelosi has the “right” position on the death penalty, she is just as pro-life as someone who opposes abortion but favors capital punishment. It was the seamless garment revisited. The interview graphically and pathetically illustrated that Niederauer is unlikely to challenge pro-abortion Catholics under his guidance.
As I said at the beginning, Nancy Pelosi and I are linked through Trinity. She’s proud of her affiliation; I’m ashamed of it. Trinity could be a great force for good as she was in the old days, educating women to defend the faith. Today she educates “empowered” women for the secular world. Is this the education envisioned by Sr. Julia Billiart, founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who devoted her life to teaching young girls? A refugee from the French Revolution, St. Julia was a simple holy woman whose constant exclamation was “How good is the good God.” But the school her spiritual daughters founded encourages more the Enlightenment philosophy she fled than the Catholic faith she lived. I believe she would be as ashamed as I am over what Trinity is today. Like Esau – Trinity, Pelosi, and Drinan have sold their noble heritage for a bowl of soup. The fact that it’s vichyssoise doesn’t make the loss of their birthright any less tragic.