On deceiving Jesuit leader Arrupe in his approving Fr. Drinan’s running for Congress in 1972

Fr. Mankowski listening at table — the seeds of his Arrupe-Drinan investigation:

In 1991 I was living at Faber House . . . in Cambridge . . . while doing doctoral studies at Harvard. On February 5 of that year, Father William Guindon, S.J., Provincial of New England Province from 1968 to 1974, was a dinner guest at Faber House and reminisced for the assembled company about the recently dead Father Arrupe.

One of his anecdotes went like this:

Well, I was over in Beirut at the time and Arrupe summoned me to Rome. That’s when I was still Provincial. He said, “I want you to tell Fr. Drinan to withdraw from the election”—this was his first run for office—“it is in violation of canon law!”

I told him, “No no no, you don’t want to do that; you don’t understand American politics; you’ll cause more trouble than it’s worth. That’s not the way to do it; just pray that he loses.”

Then Arrupe said, “All right. But this is the last time! Never again for him or anyone else!” So Bob had the permission of all three ordinaries. [The general and two relevant bishops]

Then when I got back to province I found [Fr.] John McLaughlin in my office asking for permission to run for the Senate in Rhode Island. I said, “Can’t give you permission, John.” He said, “Why not?” I said, “For one thing Fr. Arrupe has forbidden it. For another I think you’ve got a wheel loose.”

McLaughlin ran anyhow, as a Republican, doing passably well while losing to an entrenched Democrat and then hiring on as a speechwriter for President Nixon. Yet later he left the Jesuits and carved out a 34-year career hosting his own show, “The McLaughlin Group,” on PBS. His career at the White House coincided with Drinan’s in Congress.

Picking up on Mankowski, explaining his position:

Guindon’s language recorded here is very close to verbatim. Immediately after the dinner I made notes transcribing his account and sent a copy to Father Joseph Becker, S.J., then director of the Jesuit Center for Religious Studies at Xavier University. He wrote back saying that he placed my transcript in his archives; if they still exist, it may well be on file.

By his own account, Guindon deceived Arrupe about his motives and interest in Drinan’s candidacy, not only concealing his own efforts to launch Drinan but, in his urging Arrupe to pray that Drinan would lose, falsely pretending to be opposed to his election.

By presenting himself as an exasperated but cautious administrator who was unsympathetic to Drinan, instead of the partisan that he was in fact, Guindon led Arrupe to think that they had a common interest in the outcome of the affair. By this ruse, Guindon won from Arrupe, if not a green light for Drinan, at least an agreement not to oppose publicly his (first) candidacy.

In his account of using Arrupe’s general prohibition to refuse permission to then-Father John McLaughlin, S.J.—on canonical and religious grounds the obviously correct decision—Guindon shows both that he understood Arrupe’s mind perfectly well and that he exploited the General’s leniency for his own ends: using Arrupe’s grudging one-time concession in order to advance the career of a like-minded Jesuit, and his ban in order to undercut an uncongenial one.

Mankowski, Paul; Weigel, George. Jesuit at Large: Essays and Reviews by Paul Mankowski, S.J. (pp. 154-155). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

more to come on the Drinan-Arrupe business . . .