A SECOND American priest has agreed to withdraw from the Congressional elections in the autumn following the order imposed on Fr Robert Drinan Si by the Jesuit authorities in Rome.
Fr Robert Cornell, a Norbertine priest, served four years in Congress in the mid-I970s and was hoping to regain the seat that he lost in 1978. But he announced is withdrawal from the race after a meeting with his superior and after the local bishop had issued a statement saying that he could no longer seek public office.
Fr Drinan withdrew after the Jesuit Superior General Fr Pedro Arrupe said that it was "the express wish" of the Pope that priests should not be directly involved in politics.
However, there is still confusion over whether the Pope has issued a special decree on priestly participation in politics. In Rome a source at the Jesuit headquarters said that to their knowledge the decision on Fr Drinan was "a specific request in a specific situation" arid did not stem from any existing or 'forthcoming document.
But Fr Cornell's bishop said that he had been advised by the Pope's personal representative in the United States, Archbishop Jean Jadot, that the Pope has "issued a special decree forbidding any priest to run for political office", He added that he would be receiving more details within the next two weeks.
Later the mystery deepened . still further when a spokesman for the archbishop said that there must have been some misunderstanding between the apostolic delegate and the bishop. "I don't think he was told that," the spokesman said.