THE VATICAN Secretariat of State through the Jesuit Superior General, ordered the United States Jesuit Robert Drinan to withdraw his candidature for the congressional election in the autumn. But it is not clear whether it was interpreting John Paul ll's aims or acting on his precise orders. The Jesuit Superior General Father Pedro Arrupe, in a statement released in Rome, said that the decision reflects the "express wish" of the Pope, but a Vatican press office spokesman said Pope John Paul had not Intervened personally and the decision was in accordance with the general norm of canon law that priests should not be directly involved in politics.
Both the Vatican and Jesuit press offices agreed that ever since his speeches in Puebla in February last year, Pope John Paul has insisted that priests should leave politics to laity.
This has also been a norm for Jesuits. In recent years, Fr Arrupe has told Spanish and Portuguese Jesuits that they must choose between priestly and political roles.
But apparently Robert Drinan entered politics before this policy was clarified, and has been regarded as a tolerated exception to the general rule. It is not clear why the Vatican has acted now, and if it will present other priests involved in politics, such as the Maryknoll priest who is Nicaragua's foreign minister, with an ultimatum.