Daniel Joseph Berrigan
May 9, 1921
|Died||April 30, 2016 94) (aged|
|Relatives||Philip Berrigan (brother)|
Daniel Joseph Berrigan – April 30, 2016) was an American Jesuit priest, anti-war activist, Christian pacifist, playwright, poet, and author.(May 9, 1921
Berrigan's active protest against the Vietnam War earned him both scorn and admiration, especially regarding his association with the Catonsville Nine.It also landed him on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's "most wanted list" (the first-ever priest on the list), on the cover of Time magazine, and in prison.
For the rest of his life, Berrigan remained one of the United States' leading anti-war activists.In 1980, he co-founded the Plowshares movement, an anti-nuclear protest group, that put him back into the national spotlight. He was also an award-winning and prolific author of some 50 books, a teacher, and a university educator.
Berrigan was born in Virginia, Minnesota, the son of Frieda Berrigan (née Fromhart), who was of German descent, and Thomas Berrigan, a second-generation Irish Catholic and active trade union member.He was the fifth of six sons. His youngest brother was fellow peace activist Philip Berrigan.
At age 5, Berrigan's family moved to Syracuse, New York.In 1946, Berrigan earned a bachelor's degree from St. Andrew-on-Hudson, a Jesuit seminary in Hyde Park, New York. In 1952 he received a master's degree from Woodstock College in Baltimore, Maryland.
Berrigan was devoted to the Catholic Church throughout his youth. He joined the Jesuits directly out of high school in 1939 and was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1952.
Berrigan taught at St. Peter's Preparatory School in Jersey City from 1946 to 1949.
In 1954, Berrigan was assigned to teach French and theology at the Jesuit Brooklyn Preparatory School.In 1957 he was appointed professor of New Testament studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. The same year, he won the Lamont Prize for his book of poems, Time Without Number. He developed a reputation as a religious radical, working actively against poverty and on changing the relationship between priests and lay people. While at Le Moyne, he founded its International House.
While on a sabbatical from Le Moyne in 1963, Berrigan traveled to Paris and met French Jesuits who criticized the social and political conditions in Indochina. Taking inspiration from this, he and his brother Philip founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship, a group that organized protests against the war in Vietnam.
On October 28, 1965, Berrigan, along with the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, founded an organization known as Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV). The organization, founded at the Church Center for the United Nations, was joined by the likes of Dr. Hans Morgenthau, the Rev. Reinhold Niebuhr, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, and the Rev. Philip Berrigan, among many others. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who delivered his 1967 speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence under sponsorship from CALCAV, served as the national co-chairman of the organization.
From 1966 to 1970, Berrigan was the assistant director of the Cornell University United Religious Work (CURW), the umbrella organization for all religious groups on campus, including the Cornell Newman Club (later the Cornell Catholic Community), eventually becoming the group's pastor.Berrigan was the first faculty advisor of Cornell University's first gay rights student group, the Student Homophile League, in 1968.
Berrigan at one time or another held faculty positions or ran programs at Union Theological Seminary, Loyola University New Orleans, Columbia, Cornell, and Yale.His longest tenure was at Fordham (a Jesuit university located in the Bronx), where for a brief time he also served as poet-in-residence.
Berrigan appeared briefly in the 1986 Warner Bros. film The Mission , playing a Jesuit priest. He also served as a consultant on the film.
But how shall we educate men to goodness, to a sense of one another, to a love of the truth? And more urgently, how shall we do this in a bad time?— Berrigan, quoted on the cover of Time (January 25, 1971)
Berrigan, his brother and Josephite priest Philip Berrigan, and Trappist monk Thomas Merton founded an interfaith coalition against the Vietnam War and wrote letters to major newspapers arguing for an end to the war. In 1967, Berrigan witnessed the public outcry that followed from the arrest of his brother Philip, for pouring blood on draft records as part of the Baltimore Four.Philip was sentenced to six years in prison for defacing government property. The fallout he had to endure from these many interventions, including his support for prisoners of war and, in 1968, seeing firsthand the conditions on the ground in Vietnam, further radicalized Berrigan, or at least strengthened his determination to resist American military imperialism.
Berrigan traveled to Hanoi with Howard Zinn during the Tet Offensive in January 1968 to "receive" three American airmen, the first American prisoners of war released by the North Vietnamese since the US bombing of that nation had begun.
In 1968, he signed the Writers and Editors War Tax Protest pledge, vowing to refuse to make tax payments in protest of the Vietnam War.In the same year, he was interviewed in the anti-Vietnam War documentary film In the Year of the Pig , and later that year became involved in radical non-violent protest.
The short fuse of the American left is typical of the highs and lows of American emotional life. It is very rare to sustain a movement in recognizable form without a spiritual base.
Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip, along with seven other Catholic protesters, used homemade napalm to destroy 378 draft files in the parking lot of the Catonsville, Maryland, draft board on May 17, 1968.This group, which came to be known as the Catonsville Nine, issued a statement after the incident:
We confront the Roman Catholic Church, other Christian bodies, and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country's crimes. We are convinced that the religious bureaucracy in this country is racist, is an accomplice in this war, and is hostile to the poor.
Berrigan was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison,but went into hiding with the help of fellow radicals prior to imprisonment. While on the run, Berrigan was interviewed for Lee Lockwood's documentary The Holy Outlaw. The Federal Bureau of Investigation apprehended him on August 11, 1970, at the home of William Stringfellow and Anthony Towne on Block Island. Berrigan was then imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut until his release on February 24, 1972.
In retrospect, the trial of the Catonsville Nine was significant, because it "altered resistance to the Vietnam War, moving activists from street protests to repeated acts of civil disobedience, including the burning of draft cards".As The New York Times noted in its obituary, Berrigan's actions helped "shape the tactics of opposition to the Vietnam War."
On September 9, 1980, Berrigan, his brother Philip, and six others (the "Plowshares Eight") began the Plowshares movement. They trespassed onto the General Electric nuclear missile facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where they damaged nuclear warhead nose cones and poured blood onto documents and files. They were arrested and charged with over ten different felony and misdemeanor counts. 231/2 months in consideration of time already served in prison. Their legal battle was re-created in Emile de Antonio's 1982 film In the King of Prussia , which starred Martin Sheen and featured appearances by the Plowshares Eight as themselves.On April 10, 1990, after ten years of appeals, Berrigan's group was re-sentenced and paroled for up to
I see an 'interlocking directorate' of death that binds the whole culture. That is, an unspoken agreement that we will solve our problems by killing people in various ways; a declaration that certain people are expendable, outside the pale. A decent society should no more have an abortion clinic than The Pentagon." — interview by Lucien Miller, Reflections, vol. 2, no. 4 (Fall 1979)
Berrigan endorsed a consistent life ethic, a morality based on a holistic reverence for life.As a member of the Rochester, New York-area consistent life ethic advocacy group Faith and Resistance Community, he protested via civil disobedience against abortion at a new Planned Parenthood clinic in 1991.
Berrigan said of pastoral care to AIDS patients:
We deal with very many gay Catholics who have felt terribly hurt and misused by the church. There are some people who want to be reconciled with the church and there are others who have great bitterness. So I try to perform whatever human or religious work that seems called for.
Berrigan published Sorrow Built a Bridge: Friendship and AIDS reflecting on his experiences ministering to AIDS patients through the Supportive Care Program at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in 1989.The Religious Studies Review wrote, "the strength of this volume lies in its capacity to portray sensitively the impact of AIDS on human lives." Speaking about AIDS patients, many of whom were gay, The Charlotte Observer quoted Berrigan saying in 1991, "Both the church and the state are finding ways to kill people with AIDS, and one of the ways is ostracism that pushes people between the cracks of respectability or acceptability and leaves them there to make of life what they will or what they cannot."
Although much of his later work was devoted to assisting AIDS patients in New York City,Berrigan still held to his activist roots throughout his life. He maintained his opposition to American interventions abroad, from Central America in the 1980s, through the Gulf War in 1991, the Kosovo War, the US invasion of Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was also an opponent of capital punishment, a contributing editor of Sojourners , and a supporter of the Occupy movement.
P. G. Coy, P. Berryman, D. L. Anderson, and others consider Berrigan to be a Christian anarchist.
On April 30, 2016, forty-one years after the conclusion of the Vietnam War, Berrigan died in the Bronx, New York City, at Murray-Weigel Infirmary, the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University.For many years, since 1975, he had lived on the Upper West Side at the West Side Jesuit Community.
Philip Francis Berrigan, SSJ was an American peace activist and Catholic priest with the Josephites. He engaged in nonviolent, civil disobedience in the cause of peace and nuclear disarmament and was often arrested.
The Plowshares movement is an anti-nuclear weapons and Christian pacifist movement that advocates active resistance to war. The group often practices a form of protest that involves the damaging of weapons and military property. The movement gained notoriety in the early 1980s when several members damaged nuclear warhead nose cones and were subsequently convicted. The name refers to the text of prophet Isaiah who said that swords shall be beaten into plowshares.
The Catonsville Nine were nine Catholic activists who burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War. On May 17, 1968, they took 378 draft files from the draft board office in Catonsville, Maryland and burned them in the parking lot.
The Saint Patrick's Day Four are four American peace activists of Irish Catholic heritage who poured their own blood on the walls, posters, windows, and a US flag at a military recruiting center to protest the United States' impending invasion of Iraq. Peter De Mott, Daniel Burns, Teresa Grady, and Clare Grady each were members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker community, which teaches that Christians should practice non-violence and devote their lives to service of others. They each served between four and six months in federal prison for their action on Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, 2003, in Lansing, New York, near Ithaca where they reside.
John Dear is an American Catholic priest, peace activist, lecturer, and author of 35 books on peace and nonviolence. He has spoken on peace around the world, organized hundreds of demonstrations against war, injustice and nuclear weapons and been arrested 85 times in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience against war, injustice, poverty, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction.
Ciaron O'Reilly is an Australian anti-war campaigner, peace protester, social justice campaigner and Catholic Worker, having been "engaged in ... protests, acts of civil disobedience and trials in England, Ireland, and his native Australia." He has also become one of the most visible and active practical and theoretical exponents of the ideas of Christian anarchism, arguing that this "'is not an attempt to synthesise two systems of thought' that are hopelessly incompatible, but rather 'a realisation that the premise of anarchism is inherent in Christianity and the message of the Gospels.'"
Investigation of a Flame is a 2001 documentary by Lynne Sachs about the Catonsville Nine, nine Catholic activists who became known for their May 17, 1968 nonviolent act of civil disobedience in burning draft files to protest the Vietnam War.
Thomas P. Lewis was an artist and peace activist, primarily noted for his participation with the Baltimore Four and the Catonsville Nine.
The Harrisburg Seven were a group of religious anti-war activists, led by Philip Berrigan, charged in 1971 in a failed conspiracy case in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, located in Harrisburg. The seven were Phillip Berrigan, Elizabeth McAlister, Rev. Neil McLaughlin, Rev. Joseph Wenderoth, Eqbal Ahmad, Anthony Scoblick, and Mary Cain Scoblick.
Elizabeth McAlister, also known as Liz McAlister, is an American peace activist and former nun of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. She married Philip Berrigan and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. McAlister served prison time for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience.
The Cornell Catholic Community is the Catholic organization and parish at Cornell University, providing worship services and community for Catholic students. Its current director is Father Daniel McCullin.
Molly Rush is a Catholic anti-war, civil and women's rights activist born in 1935. She co-founded the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with Larry Kessler in 1972, She was one of the Plowshares eight defendants. They faced trial after an anti-nuclear weapons symbolic action at a nuclear missile plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
Fred A. Wilcox is a retired associate professor in the writing department at Ithaca College. He is the author of six books on issues including the Vietnam War, nuclear power, and the Plowshares Movement. Two of his books discuss the effects of Agent Orange, a defoliant used extensively during the war.
Megan Gillespie Rice S.H.C.J. was an American nuclear disarmament activist, Catholic nun, and former missionary. She was notable for illegally entering the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at the age of 82, with two fellow activists of the Transform Now Plowshares group. The action was a nuclear disarmament protest referred to as "the biggest security breach in the history of the nation's atomic complex."
This is a bibliography of works by and about Daniel Joseph Berrigan, S.J., who was an American Jesuit priest, anti-war activist, poet, essayist, and university instructor. Berrigan was an award-winning and prolific author, who published more than 50 books during his life in 1957, he was awarded the Lamont Prize for his book of poems, Time Without Number.
William Hart McNichols is a Catholic priest and artist from the United States.
The Milwaukee Fourteen were fourteen peace activists who burned Selective Service records to protest the Vietnam War. On 24 September 1968, they entered Milwaukee's Brumder Building, site of nine Wisconsin draft boards, gathered up about 10,000 files, carried them to an open public space, and set them on fire with homemade napalm. The fourteen then remained at the site, singing and reading from the gospels of John and Luke as Milwaukee firemen and police officers arrived. The subsequent trial of twelve of the protestors became the first resistance trial in which the defendants chose to represent themselves. After a trial of eleven days, the defendants were each found guilty of theft, arson, and burglary.
Richard McSorley was a Jesuit priest and peace studies Professor at Georgetown University.
Stephen Michael Kelly is an American Jesuit priest and peace activist. He spent six years in prison for hammering on D-5 Trident missiles and other Plowshares movement actions. He has spent at least a decade behind bars, with six of those years in solitary confinement.
The Chicago 15 were a group of 15 American antiwar activists known for protesting the U.S. war with Vietnam. On Sunday, May 25, 1969 the group broke into the Selective Service office at 2355 W. 63rd Street in Chicago, which housed the records of 34 south side draft boards. They removed 40,000 records, stuffing the documents into burlap bags and dragging the bags outside to the alley where they doused the records in gasoline and set them ablaze. The 15 men and women stood singing songs around the bonfire until police arrested and transferred them to Cook County Jail.
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Back in New York, Berrigan taught French and theology for three years at the Jesuits' Brooklyn Preparatory School.