The first Roman Catholic priest to serve as a voting member of the U.S Congress has died.

Georgetown University says Reverend Robert Drinan died at the age of 86 after suffering from pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

He represented Massachusetts in the House of Representatives during the 1970's before stepping down when Pope John Paul II issued a directive barring priests from holding public office.

After leaving Congress, Drinan continued to advocate human rights and humanitarian causes. He also taught classes on international human rights, law, legal ethics and religion and government at Georgetown.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.