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The priest who rebelled against war

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The priest
 who rebelled against war

The Jesuit priest Daniel J. Berrigan died on Saturday, 30 April, at the age of
94. A poet and playwright, Fr Berrigan received great notoriety in the 1970s
and 1980s for his courageous and, at times, clamorous protests against war and
other forms of violence. In 1971 the weekly Time dedicated one of its
covers to him and his brother Philip, also a priest and protest leader, to the
“rebel priests.

Many of his acts of civil disobedience were
unusual, especially given the spirit of the times. He caused particular uproar
in his campaign against U.S. involvement war in the Vietnam War. On 17 May
1968, Fr Berrigan along with his brother and seven other pacifists went to the
Selective Service Office in Catonsville, Maryland, and burnt draft records. As
a result, he remained in hiding (his name was among the ten most wanted
fugitives in the country) and then
served a two-year prison sentence for his conviction.

“Such blatant anti-war demonstrations and
radical protests against U.S.
imperialism, Francesco Pistocchini wrote in the October 2009 issue of the
Jesuit magazine Popoli, “could
have created problems for [his] superiors but Jesuit Superior General Pedro
Arrupe, who understood the effects of the atomic bomb since he lived in
Hiroshima, visited [Fr Berrigan] in the federal prison in Danbury. Also because, as Fr Berrigan was to point out 40 years after
his arrest, “I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was
interested in trying to do it humanly and carefully and nonviolently and let it
go.

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