Daniel Joseph Berrigan
May 9, 1921
|Died||April 30, 2016 (aged 94)|
|Relatives||Philip Berrigan (brother)|
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.
In 1954, Berrigan was assigned to teach French and theology at the Jesuit Brooklyn Preparatory School.[a] 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.
Vietnam War era
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, 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, on the 40th anniversary of the Catonsville Nine (2008)
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. 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. On April 10, 1990, after ten years of appeals, Berrigan's group was re-sentenced and paroled for up to 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.
Consistent life ethic
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.
- January 25, 1971: Featured on the cover of TIME along with his brother Philip.
- Adrienne Rich's poem "The Burning of Paper Instead of Children" makes numerous references to the Catonsville Nine and includes an epigraph from Daniel Berrigan during the trial ("I was in danger of verbalizing my moral impulses out of existence").
- It is frequently claimed that "the radical priest" in Paul Simon's song "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" refers to or was inspired by Berrigan
- Lynne Sachs's documentary film Investigation of a Flame is about the Berrigan brothers and the Catonsville Nine.
- Berrigan appeared briefly in the 1986 Roland Joffé film The Mission, which starred Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons.
- Berrigan's play The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1970) premiered at the Lyceum Theatre in New York City on June 2, 1971. The original cast featured the talents of Biff McGuire, Michael Moriarty, Josef Sommer, Sam Waterston, and James Woods, among others. Gordon Davidson received a 1972 Tony Award nomination for his direction of the play.
- The Trial of the Catonsville Nine was adapted in a 1972 film of the same name, produced by Gregory Peck and starring Ed Flanders as Berrigan.
- Berrigan is interviewed in Emile de Antonio's 1968 Vietnam War documentary In the Year of the Pig.
- Berrigan is featured in Emile de Antonio's 1983 film In the King of Prussia, also starring fellow activist Martin Sheen.
- Berrigan's involvement with the Catonsville Nine is explored in the 2013 documentary Hit & Stay.
- Dar Williams' song "I Had No Right" from her album The Green World is about Berrigan and his trial.
On 30 April 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.
Awards and recognition
- 1956: Lamont Poetry Selection
- 1974: War Resisters League Peace Award
- 1974: Gandhi Peace Award (accepted then resigned)
- 1988: Thomas Merton Award
- 1989: Pax Christi USA Pope Paul VI Teacher of Peace Award
- 1991: The Peace Abbey Foundation Courage of Conscience Award
- 1993: Pacem in Terris Award
- 2008: Honorary Degree from The College of Wooster
- 2017: Daniel Berrigan Center at Benincasa Community, 133 W. 70th Street, New York, NY 10023
- Christian pacifism
- List of fugitives from justice who disappeared
- List of peace activists
- Catholic Worker Movement
- Dorothy Day
- According to Marsh and Brown, it was French and philosophy.
- "Fire and Faith: The Catonsville Nine File". Digital archive. Enoch Pratt Free Library. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Chris Hedges (May 20, 2008). "Daniel Berrigan: Forty Years After Catonsville". The Nation.
- "Blessed are the peacemakers". The Economist. May 21, 2016.
- "TIME Magazine Cover: Philip and Daniel Berrigan". Time. January 25, 1971.
- Lewis, Daniel (April 30, 2016). "Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
- Goodman, Amy (June 8, 2006). "Holy Outlaw: Lifelong Peace Activist Father Daniel Berrigan Turns 85". Democracy Now!. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
Starts at 35:00
- "US anti-Vietnam war priest Daniel Berrigan dies aged 94". BBC News. May 2016.
- "Daniel Berrigan – United States Census, 1930". FamilySearch. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Lewis, Daniel (December 8, 2002). "Philip Berrigan, Former Priest and Peace Advocate in the Vietnam War Era, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Faison, Carly (2014). "Guide to the Daniel Berrigan Papers". CatholicResearch.net. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- "Danial J Berrigan – United States Census, 1940". FamilySearch. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Roberts, Tom (April 30, 2016). "Daniel Berrigan, poet, peacemaker, dies at 94". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Schmidt, Margaret (April 30, 2016). "Peace activist Father Berrigan dies, taught at St. Peter's Prep in '40s". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Official Associated Press Almanac. New York Times. 1970. p. 31. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
Back in New York, Berrigan taught French and theology for three years at the Jesuits' Brooklyn Preparatory School.
- Siracusa, J.M. (2012). "Berrigan, Daniel". Encyclopedia of the Kennedys: The People and Events That Shaped America: The People and Events That Shaped America. ABC-CLIO. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-59884-539-6.
- Curtis, R. (1974). The Berrigan Brothers: The Story of Daniel and Philip Berrigan. Hawthorn Books. p. 33. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
- Marsh, J.L.; Brown, A.J. (2012). Faith, Resistance, and the Future: Daniel Berrigan's Challenge to Catholic Social Thought. Fordham University Press Series. Fordham University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-8232-3982-5. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
- "International House – Alumni News".
- "Daniel Berrigan, priest and anti-Vietnam war peace activist, dies". The Guardian. May 2016.
- Aloi, Daniel (April 4, 2006). "From Vietnam to Redbud Woods: Daniel Berrigan launches events commemorating five decades of activism at Cornell". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved December 1, 2007.
- Marston, Brenda (June 6, 2020). "CUGALA Reunion 2020 The First American University". Cornell University. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
- "Dissenter Poet in Residence: The Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J." Inside Fordham Online. March 2003. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Guerierro, Katherine (November 6, 1997). "Peace activist Daniel Berrigan to teach poetry course". Retrieved October 18, 2016.
- Raftery, Kay (March 25, 1993). "Father Berrigan Talks About His Film Mission The Jesuit And Noted Peace Activist Discussed His Role In The Making Of A Major Motion Picture". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
- Berrigan, Daniel (1986). The Mission: A Film Journal (1st ed.). San Francisco: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-250056-4. OCLC 13947262.
- "The Nation: The Berrigans: Conspiracy and Conscience". Time. 97 (4): 18. January 25, 1971. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Religion and War Resistance in the Plowshares Movement (2008) Sharon Erickson Nepstad, Cambridge University Press, p48 ISBN 978-0-521-71767-0
- "Father Daniel Berrigan, Anti-War Activist & Poet, Dies". Democracy Now!. April 30, 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- "In 2006 Interview, Fr. Dan Berrigan Recalls Confronting Defense Secretary McNamara over Vietnam War". Democracy Now!.
- Nancy Zaroulis; Gerald Sullivan (1989). Who Spoke Up? American Protest Against the War in Vietnam 1963–1975. Horizon Book Promotions. ISBN 0-385-17547-7.
- Howard Zinn (1994). You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train. Beacon Press. pp. 126–38. ISBN 0-8070-7127-7.; new ed. 2002
- "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest". New York Post. January 30, 1968.
- "The Catonsville Nine original 5/17/68 footage". Waging Non-Violence. May 17, 1968. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Olzen, Jake (May 17, 2013). "How the Catonsville Nine survived on film". Waging Non-Violence. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- United States v. Moylan, 1002 417 F. 2d (Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit 1969).
- Berrigan v. Norton, 790 451 F. 2d (Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 1971).
- "Grand jury indicts two for hiding Dan Berrigan". Cornell Daily Sun. 87 (63). Associated Press. December 18, 1970. p. 3. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
- Com. v. Berrigan, 226 501 A. 2d (Pa: Supreme Court 1985).
- "A History of Direct Disarmament Actions The Ploughshares movementoriginated in the North American faith".
- Democrats for Life: Pro-Life Politics and the Silenced Majority, Kristen Day, p.61
- Gibson, David (April 1, 2016). "Daniel Berrigan, anti-war priest, dies at 94". Religion News Service. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Goldman, Ari L. (February 8, 1992). "Religion Notes". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- "Consistent Life Individual Endorsers As of January 9, 2017" (PDF). Consistent Life Network. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- "Fr Daniel Berrigan, anti-war and pro-life campaigner, dies aged 94 – CatholicHerald.co.uk". CatholicHerald.co.uk – Breaking news and opinion from the online edition of Britain's leading Catholic newspaper. Associated Press. May 2, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Mullen, Thomas (June 2, 1990). "JESUIT PRIEST'S VARIED CAUSES INCLUDE HELPING AIDS VICTIMS". Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) – via Access World News.
- Berrigan, Daniel (1989). Sorrow Built a Bridge: Friendship and AIDS. Baltimore: Fortkamp Publishing Company.
- "Notes on Recent Publications". Religious Studies Review. 17 (2): 150. 1991.
- McClain, Kathleen (October 11, 1989). "AIDS ATTITUDES APPALL ACTIVIST DANIEL BERRIGAN". The Charlotte Observer (NC) – via Access World News.
- Chris Hedges (June 11, 2012). "Daniel Berrigan, America's Street Priest, Stands With Occupy".
- Roberts, Tom (January 26, 1996). "Soon 75, Berrigan's is still an edgy God". National Catholic Reporter. 32 (13). ISSN 0027-8939.
- Schneider, N. (2013). Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. University of California Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-520-95703-9. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- Coy, P.G. (1988). A Revolution of the Heart: Essays on the Catholic Worker. Temple University Press. p. 299. ISBN 978-0-87722-531-7. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- Labrie, R. (2001). Thomas Merton and the Inclusive Imagination. University of Missouri Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-8262-6279-0. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- Berryman, P. (2013). OUR UNFINISHED BUSINESS. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-307-83164-4. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- Davis, A.Y. (2016). If They Come in the Morning... Radical Thinkers. Verso Books. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-78478-770-7. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- Anderson, D.L. (2003). The Human Tradition in America Since 1945. Human tradition in America. Scholarly Resources. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-8420-2943-8. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- "Adrienne Rich experiment".
- "Investigation of a Flame (2003)". IMDb.
- "Daniel Berrigan Papers (1961–2009)" (Finding aid). Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University. Chicago, Illinois. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Goldman, Ari L. (April 17, 1989). "A Landlord Tries to Evict Jesuit Group". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- Wylie-Kellermann, Bill (September 2016). "Death Shall Have No Dominion: Daniel Berrigan of the Resurrection". CrossCurrents. 66 (3): 312–320. doi:10.1111/cros.12199.
- "WRL Peace Awards". Archived from the original on June 10, 2007.
- "Award Laureates".
- "OBITUARY: Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace, passes away at age 94". PAX CHRISTI USA. April 30, 2016.
- "List of Award Recipients".
- https://www.wooster.edu/_media/files/academics/libraries/collections/archives/honorary-degrees-name-13.pdf[permanent dead link]
- Coles, Robert (March 22, 1971). "A Dialogue With Radical Priest Daniel Berrigan". Time. 97 (12): 28. ISSN 0040-781X.
- Jim Forest, "At Play in the Lions' Den: a biography and memoir of Daniel Berrigan" (Orbis Books 2017)
- Francine du Plessix Gray, Divine Disobedience: Profiles in Catholic Radicalism (Knopf, 1970)
- Daniel Berrigan Papers (finding aid) Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University
- Murray Polner and Jim O'Grady, "Disarmed and Dangerous: The Radical Lives and Times of Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Brothers in Religious Faith & Civil Disobedience" (Basic Books, 1997 and Westview Press, 1998)
- Murray Polner Papers, DePaul University Special Collections and Archives (notes and documents from writing Disarmed and Dangerous: The Radical Lives & Times of Daniel & Philip Berrigan)
- Daniel Cosacchi and Eric Martin, eds., The Berrigan Letters: Personal Correspondence between Daniel and Philip Berrigan (Orbis Books, 2016)
- Plowshares Movement Chronology
- Works by or about Daniel Berrigan in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Berrigan Brothers And The Harrisburg Seven Trial, 1970–1989 at the Internet Archive
- Daniel and Philip Berrigan Collection, 1880–1995 at Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
- Daniel Berrigan Papers at Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University
- Appearances on C-SPAN