Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan

Overview

Daniel Berrigan, SJ
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 (born May 9, 1921) is an American Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

, peace activist, and poet. Daniel and his brother Philip
Philip Berrigan
Philip Francis Berrigan was an internationally renowned American peace activist, Christian anarchist and former Roman Catholic priest...

 were for a time on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
The FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list arose from a conversation held in late 1949 between J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, and William Kinsey Hutchinson, International News Service Editor-in-Chief, who were discussing ways to promote capture of the...

 list for their involvement in antiwar protests during the Vietnam war.

Daniel J. Berrigan was born in Virginia, Minnesota
Virginia, Minnesota
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,157 people, 4,333 households, and 2,270 families residing in the city. The population density was 486.1 people per square mile . There were 4,692 housing units at an average density of 249.1 per square mile...

, a Midwestern working-class town, on May 9, 1921. His father, Thomas Berrigan, was a second-generation Irish
Irish American
Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. A total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau...

 Catholic and active union member.
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Encyclopedia

Daniel Berrigan, SJ
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 (born May 9, 1921) is an American Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

, peace activist, and poet. Daniel and his brother Philip
Philip Berrigan
Philip Francis Berrigan was an internationally renowned American peace activist, Christian anarchist and former Roman Catholic priest...

 were for a time on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
The FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list arose from a conversation held in late 1949 between J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, and William Kinsey Hutchinson, International News Service Editor-in-Chief, who were discussing ways to promote capture of the...

 list for their involvement in antiwar protests during the Vietnam war.

History


Daniel J. Berrigan was born in Virginia, Minnesota
Virginia, Minnesota
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,157 people, 4,333 households, and 2,270 families residing in the city. The population density was 486.1 people per square mile . There were 4,692 housing units at an average density of 249.1 per square mile...

, a Midwestern working-class town, on May 9, 1921. His father, Thomas Berrigan, was a second-generation Irish
Irish American
Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. A total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau...

 Catholic and active union member. Thomas left the Catholic Church, but Daniel remained attracted to the Church throughout his youth. Although a life-long devotee of Notre Dame, Berrigan joined the Jesuits
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 directly out of high school in 1939 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1952. In 1954, he was assigned to teach theology at the Jesuit Brooklyn Preparatory School
Brooklyn Preparatory School
-History:Brooklyn Prep was a highly selective Jesuit preparatory school founded by the Society of Jesus in 1908. The school educated generations of young men from throughout New York City and Long Island until its untimely closure in 1972.The Prep was located on 1150 Carroll Street in the Crown...

. In 1957 he was appointed professor of New Testament studies at Le Moyne College
Le Moyne College
Le Moyne College, named after Simon Le Moyne, is a private, Jesuit college enrolling over 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1946, Le Moyne is the first Jesuit college to be founded as a co-educational institution...

 in Syracuse, New York
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States, the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse", and the fifth most populous city in the state. At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,170, and its metropolitan area had a population of 742,603...

. That same year he won the Lamont Prize for his book of poems, Time Without Number. Berrigan developed a reputation as a religious radical, working actively against poverty, and on changing the relationship between priests and laypersons. While at Le Moyne, he founded their International House
International House
International House is the name of:in Australia*International House, University of Queensland, a residential college on the campus of the University of Queensland...

.

From 1966 to 1970 he was the assistant director of the Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 United Religious Work (CURW), the umbrella organization for all religious groups on campus, including the Cornell Newman Club, later the Cornell Catholic Community
Cornell Catholic Community
The Cornell Catholic Community is the Catholic organization and parish at Cornell University, providing worship services and community for Catholic students...

. He became the pastor for the CCC, during which time he played an instrumental role in the national peace movement. He now resides in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and teaches at Fordham University
Fordham University
Fordham University is a private, nonprofit, coeducational research university in the United States, with three campuses in and around New York City. It was founded by the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York in 1841 as St...

 in addition to serving as its poet in residence.

Berrigan appears briefly in the 1986 film, The Mission, directed by Roland Joffé
Roland Joffé
Roland Joffé is an English-French film director who is known for his Oscar nominated movies, The Killing Fields and The Mission. He began his career in television. His early television credits included episodes of Coronation Street and an adaptation of The Stars Look Down for Granada...

 and starring Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro, Jr. is an American actor, director and producer. His first major film roles were in Bang the Drum Slowly and Mean Streets, both in 1973...

 and Jeremy Irons
Jeremy Irons
Jeremy John Irons is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969, and has since appeared in many London theatre productions including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the...

. He played a Jesuit priest and also served as a consultant on the film.

Protests against the Vietnam War


Berrigan, his brother the Josephite
Josephite Fathers
The Josephite Fathers and Brothers or, more properly, Saint Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart, Inc. are a society of Catholic priests and brothers, based in the United States. It was formed in 1871 by a group of priests from the English Foreign Mission Society of Saint Joseph, also known as...

 priest Philip Berrigan
Philip Berrigan
Philip Francis Berrigan was an internationally renowned American peace activist, Christian anarchist and former Roman Catholic priest...

, and the famed Trappist
TRAPPIST
TRAPPIST is Belgian robotic telescope in Chile which came online in 2010, and is an acronym for TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope, so named in homage to Trappist beer produced in the Belgian region. Situated high in the Chilean mountains at La Silla Observatory, it is actually...

 monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. was a 20th century Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion...

 founded an interfaith coalition against the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, and wrote letters to major newspapers arguing for an end to the war.

In 1967, Phillip was arrested for non-violent protest and sentenced to six years in prison. This, and his belief that his support of POWs during the war was not acknowledged and appreciated, further radicalized Berrigan against the U.S. government.

Berrigan traveled to Hanoi with Howard Zinn
Howard Zinn
Howard Zinn was an American historian, academic, author, playwright, and social activist. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University from 1964-88 he wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United...

 during the Tet Offensive in January 1968 to "receive" three American airmen, the first American POWs released by the North Vietnamese since the U.S. bombing of that nation had begun. The event was widely reported in the news media and has been discussed in a number of books.

In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. In the same year, he was interviewed in the anti-Vietnam War documentary film In the Year of the Pig
In the Year of the Pig
In the Year of the Pig is a 1968 American documentary film about the origins of the Vietnam War, directed by Emile de Antonio. It was nominated for an Academy award for best documentary....

, and later that year became involved in radical nonviolent protest. He manufactured home-made napalm
Napalm
Napalm is a thickening/gelling agent generally mixed with gasoline or a similar fuel for use in an incendiary device, primarily as an anti-personnel weapon...

 and, with eight other Catholic protesters, used it to destroy 378 draft files in the parking lot of the Catonsville, Maryland
Catonsville, Maryland
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of , all of it land.-Demographics:In 2010 Catonsville had a population of 41,567...

 draft board on May 17, 1968. This group came to be known as the Catonsville Nine
Catonsville Nine
The Catonsville Nine were nine Catholic activists who burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War. On May 17, 1968 they went to the draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, took 378 draft files, brought them to the parking lot in wire baskets, dumped them out, poured homemade napalm over them, and...

.

Berrigan was promptly 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. Soon thereafter the FBI apprehended him at the home of William Stringfellow
William Stringfellow
Frank William Stringfellow was an American lay theologian during the 1960s and 1970s.-Life and career:...

 and sent him to prison. He was released in 1972.

Berrigan later spent time in France meeting with Thich Nhat Hanh, the exiled Buddhist monk and peace activist from Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

.

Plowshares Movement



On September 9, 1980, Berrigan, his brother Philip, and six others (the "Plowshares Eight") began the Plowshares Movement
Plowshares Movement
The Plowshares Movement is an anti-nuclear weapons movement that gained notoriety in the early 1980s when several members damaged government property and were subsequently convicted.-History:...

. They illegally trespassed onto the General Electric
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

 Nuclear Missile facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
King of Prussia is a census-designated place in Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2010 census, its population was 19,936. The community took its name in the 18th century from a local tavern named the King of Prussia Inn, which was named after...

, 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 23 and 1/2 months in consideration of time already served in prison. Their legal battle was re-created in Emile de Antonio
Emile de Antonio
Emile de Antonio was a director and producer of documentary films, usually detailing political or social events circa 1960s–1980s...

's 1982 film In The King of Prussia, which starred Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen
Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez , better known by his stage name Martin Sheen, is an American film actor best known for his performances in the films Badlands and Apocalypse Now , and in the television series The West Wing from 1999 to 2006.He is considered one of the best actors never to be...

 and featured appearances by the Plowshares Eight as themselves.

Berrigan is still involved with the Plowshares Movement.

Other activism


Berrigan continues to maintain a level of activism and protests, including protests against American intervention in Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, the 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, the Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. He is also a prominent pro-life
Pro-life
Opposition to the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-life, or anti-abortion, movement, a social and political movement opposing elective abortion on moral grounds and supporting its legal prohibition or restriction...

 activist and speaks out against capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

. He is a contributing editor of Sojourners Magazine
Sojourners Magazine
Sojourners magazine, a progressive monthly publication of the Christian social justice organization Sojourners, was first published in 1971 under the original title of The Post-American. The magazine publishes editorials and articles on Christian life, the church and the world, Christianity and...

. Berrigan also supports LGBT rights.

Family


He has a niece, Frida Berrigan
Frida Berrigan
Frida Berrigan is a peace activist and research associate at the World Policy Institute, specializing in arms trade.She is also a columnist for and Foreign Policy In Focus.She is the daughter of Philip Berrigan of the Catonsville Nine and Liz McAlister....

, who is an organizer and research associate in New York. Frida is the daughter of Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister, and she currently serves on United for Peace and Justice
United for Peace and Justice
United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of more than 1,300 international and U.S.-based organizations opposed to "our government's policy of permanent warfare and empire-building."...

's steering committee. He has another niece, Katie, and a nephew, Jerry. They are Frida's siblings. Philip died in December 2002.

Writings


Berrigan later wrote the play The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, which ran on Broadway for 29 performances in 1971 and was made into a movie in 1972.

Berrigan's other works include
  • Love, Love at the End: Parables, Prayers and Meditations, 1968 (reprinted 1971, Macmillan Company))
  • "Statement on Poetry." The Worcester Review IV, (1976)
  • Absurd Convictions, Modest Hopes
  • Geography of Faith
  • Time Without Number (1957) - winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize
  • The Dark Night of Resistance
  • Night Flight to Hanoi
  • Trial Writings (with Tom Lewis).

Awards and recognition

  • 1956 Lamont Poetry Selection
  • 1974 War Resisters League Peace Award
    War Resisters League Peace Award
    Since 1958, the "War Resisters League", the pacifist group founded in 1923, has awarded almost annually its War Resisters League Peace Award to a person or organization whose work represents the League's radical nonviolent program of Gandhian action....

  • 1988 Thomas Merton Award
    Thomas Merton Award
    The Thomas Merton Award has been awarded since 1972 by the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Social Justice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. It is named after Thomas Merton and is given annually to "national and international individuals struggling for justice."-Award recipients:The Thomas Merton...

  • 1989 Pax Christi USA Pope Paul VI Teacher of Peace Award
    Pax Christi USA Pope Paul VI Teacher of Peace Award
    The Pope Paul VI Teacher of Peace Award is given out annually by the organization Pax Christi USA, a Catholic peace organization, to an individual who has exemplified Pope Paul VI's World Day for Peace message: "To reach peace, teach peace."...

  • 1992 The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award
  • 1993 Pacem in Terris Award
    Pacem in Terris Award
    The Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award is a Catholic peace award which has been given annually since 1964, in commemoration of the 1963 encyclical letter "Pacem in Terris" of Pope John XXIII...

  • 2008 Honorary Degree from The College of Wooster

In popular culture

  • Dar Williams's
    Dar Williams
    Dar Williams is an American singer-songwriter specializing in pop folk.She is a frequent performer at folk festivals and has toured with such artists as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Griffin, Ani DiFranco, The Nields, Shawn Colvin, Girlyman, Joan Baez, and Catie Curtis.-Biography:Williams was born...

     song "I Had No Right" from her album The Green World
    The Green World
    The Green World is the fourth studio album by American folk music singer-songwriter Dar Williams, released in 2000.While writing songs for the album, Williams incorporated her ongoing interest in religion into the process...

    is about Berrigan and his trial.
  • Paul Simon's
    Paul Simon
    Paul Frederic Simon is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.Simon is best known for his success, beginning in 1965, as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote most of the pair's songs, including three that reached number one on the US singles...

     song "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
    Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
    "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" is a song by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon from his 1972 self-titled album.-Lyrical subject:The song is about two boys who have broken a law, although the exact law that has been broken is not stated in the song and has become a matter of some debate...

    " refers to Berrigan as "the radical priest".
  • Lynne Sachs's documentary film Investigation of a Flame
    Investigation of a Flame
    Investigation of a Flame is a documentary about the Catonsville Nine and their nonviolent act of civil disobedience. This documentary film examines the courageous attempt of protesters to call attention to the Vietnam War.- Overview :...

    is about the Berrigan brothers and the Catonsville Nine.
  • Daniel Berrigan was interviewed about his life and activism for .
  • Daniel Berrigan appeared briefly in the 1986 Roland Joffé film The Mission, which starred Robert de Niro and Jeremy Irons.
  • In 1994, Berrigan was one of several political activists featured on an advertisement for Ben & Jerry's
    Ben & Jerry's
    Ben & Jerry's is an American ice cream company, a division of the British-Dutch Unilever conglomerate, that manufactures ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream novelty products, manufactured by Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings, Inc., headquartered in South Burlington, Vermont, United...

     ice cream. Proceeds from sales of a poster of the advertisement were donated to the Children's Defense Fund
    Children's Defense Fund
    The Children's Defense Fund is an American child advocacy and research group, founded in 1973 by Marian Wright Edelman. Its motto Leave No Child Behind reflects its mission to advocate on behalf of children...

    .
  • The character of Father Corrigan in the novel Let The Great World Spin (2009, by Colum McCann
    Colum McCann
    Colum McCann is an Irish writer of literary fiction. He is a Professor of Contemporary Literature at European Graduate School and Professor of Fiction at CUNY Hunter College's Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing with fellow novelists Peter Carey, twice winner of the Man Booker Prize,...

    ), was inspired by the life of Daniel Berrigan.

External links