Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

New Chair For Drinan Draws Ire

A number of conservative Catholic groups objected to the establishment of an honorary chair at the Law Center last week because it recognizes a Jesuit priest who the groups say has violated Catholic doctrine.

Law Center Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff announced a chair in human rights last Tuesday named for Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J., who served five terms in Congress beginning in 1971. Drinan’s public support of abortion rights has earned him the enmity of many conservative Catholics because Catholic doctrine opposes abortion.

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a conservative Catholic watchdog group that has sharply criticized Georgetown in the past, called the new chair “a horrible embarrassment for Georgetown.”

Reilly said that the creation of the chair is consistent with a chain of recent practices that place Georgetown outside the boundaries acceptable for Catholic universities. He cited as examples the university’s extension of health benefits to same-sex partners of university employees last year, the annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues” on campus and the distribution of condoms in Red Square by H*yas for Choice, a student group that supports abortion rights.

“It has come to the point that it is dubious if Georgetown still has a commitment to the Catholic faith,” Reilly said.

Drinan served as a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts and has participated in human rights missions to more than 16 nations during his career, including China, Israel and the Soviet Union. He said he separates his personal views on abortion from his views on the legality of abortion rights, which he supports.

“As I’ve said before, I believe that abortion is virtual infanticide,” Drinan said.

Drinan discredited the groups opposing the creation of the chair, saying that they wield little influence over national affairs.

“They may be, at most, a small minority,” Drinan said.

But Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, a Catholic antiabortion organization, said that Drinan has not supported human rights.

“It is a contradiction for Fr. Drinan to support human rights for people in Ethiopia but not the rights of the unborn in his own country,” Euteneuer said. “Father Drinan was not ordained to preach the government’s position on abortion. He was ordained to preach the position of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Euteneuer also defended his comparison of Drinan to Attila the Hun in a press release issued earlier in the week.

“The reference to Attila was an analogy to point out the contradiction in Fr. Drinan’s views and Georgetown’s actions. Drinan unabashedly supports the right to kill babies. It’s the same thing as Attila,” Euteneuer said.

At a ceremony on Monday at the Law Center in honor of Drinan, Aleinikoff gave a glowing review of Drinan’s career, but did not mention his support for abortion rights.

“He is an educator, legislator, scholar and an advocate. His accomplishments are many, and his honors are well-deserved,” Aleinikoff said during his speech.

Aleinikoff could not be reached for comment.

Jane Stromseth, director of the Human Rights Institute at the Law Center, said during the ceremony that a different visiting professor at the Law Center will hold the chair each year. The first will be Thomas Buergenthal, who serves on the International Court of Justice.

“We believe our students and the entire community here at Georgetown will be enriched and learn a great deal from human rights leaders who have made enormous practical contributions in the world,” Stromseth said during his speech.

Drinan said that the award shows how human rights have emerged as an important issue for law schools.

“The award is a nice recognition of the importance of human rights. For years, law schools have talked about natural law. Today, the name for that is `international human rights,'” Drinan said.

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