[sixties-l] this was on cbs reuters--Berrigan obituary

Date: Sat Dec 14 2002 - 15:46:24 EST

  • Next message: Sorrento95@AOL.COM: "Re: [sixties-l] Will hip-hop kill the civil rights star? (fwd)"

    BALTIMORE (Dec. 7) - Philip Berrigan, the former Roman Catholic priest who
    with his Jesuit brother Daniel led a generation of religious opposition to
    the Vietnam War and the nuclear arms race, died of cancer at the age of 79,
    his family said on Saturday.

    Berrigan died late Friday at Jonah House, his communal living facility for
    pacifists in West Baltimore, after being diagnosed with liver and kidney
    cancer in October. He stopped chemotherapy after one treatment and received
    last rites at a Nov. 30 ceremony officiated by the Rev. Daniel Berrigan.

    ''These are hair-trigger times, with well-manicured barbarians at the wheel
    and our nuclear strike force poised and ready,'' he said in a statement to
    friends and supporters issued earlier this week.

    ''The American people will prevail. So will all thoughtful and decent people
    throughout the world,'' added the message, sent to well-wishers on a Jonah
    House card.

    Berrigan, who spent at least 11 of the past 35 years behind bars for acts of
    civil disobedience, was ordained a Josephite priest in 1955 and assigned to
    teach black children in Louisiana, where the Civil Rights movement inspired
    him to a lifelong commitment to peace and social justice.

    He and Daniel Berrigan became national figures of the anti-war movement
    during the Catonsville Nine protest on May 17, 1968, when they and fellow
    activists poured homemade napalm onto hundreds of Selective Service cards
    outside a draft board at a Knights of Columbus hall in Catonsville, Maryland.

    ''I die with the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear
    weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them,
    deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the
    Earth itself,'' Berrigan said in a statement given to his wife, the former
    nun Elizabeth McAlister, during the weekend before Thanksgiving.

    Howard Zinn, Boston University historian and Berrigan friend, credited the
    brothers with forging a path of religious civil disobedience for U.S.
    Catholics from the Vietnam War to conflicts in Latin America and the Persian

    In a statement to Reuters, Zinn described Philip Berrigan as ''one of the
    heroes of our time, a man of immense courage and commitment'' whose devotion
    to peace ''stands in such stark contrast to the war-makers who hold power in

    ''He lived his life in an exemplary way, in a community of people who worked
    with him for peace and justice, sharing their worldly goods, demonstrating
    what a decent society might be like,'' Zinn said.


    Philip Berrigan, a World War Two veteran, helped found the Plowshares peace
    movement against the modern arms race in 1980, on the Biblical ethic of
    beating swords into plowshares. The group's first act was to break into a
    General Electric defense plant near Philadelphia, smash the nose cones of
    Mark 12A warheads and douse blueprints with blood.

    ''The deep, deep sense I have of him is really beyond praise, beyond words,''
    Daniel Berrigan, a fellow Plowshare, said of Philip in an interview last year.

    In his final clash in December 1999, he and three other Plowshare activists
    broke into an Air National Guard base near Baltimore and attacked two A-10
    warplanes with blood and hammers to protest the military's use of depleted
    uranium in armor-piercing shells.

    He was imprisoned for the act and remained behind bars until Dec. 14, 2001.

    ''There are times when I'd like to just sit back in my rocking chair, but I'm
    going to fight all the way and hopefully die with my boots on,'' Berrigan
    told Reuters in a May 2001 interview at a federal prison in Ohio.

    His public appearances against violence and militarism continued into this
    autumn, though he needed a walker to get around.

    ''Right to the end, in the midst of his dying, he was unflinching and
    unswerving in his call for a world without war,'' said Richard Deats of the
    Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith peace group that helped Catholics
    including the Berrigans, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton unify the peace voices
    of the church.

    In his 1996 autobiography, ''Fighting the Lamb's War,'' Berrigan described
    Jesus as a revolutionary committed to social justice and Washington as a
    plantation where minorities live in shoddy housing and work at lousy jobs or
    wait to be herded into prison as members of a neglected surplus populace.

    ''I see no point in working within an evil system. Christ was never a
    reformer. He didn't advocate voting for one corrupt politician over
    another,'' Berrigan wrote. ''He preached that we should dismantle, not
    attempt to patch, the state.''

    Born Oct. 5, 1923, in Two Harbors, Minnesota, Philip Francis Berrigan is
    survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and four brothers.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Dec 16 2002 - 22:47:36 EST