Sunday, May 1, 2016
Poet and Prophet: The peacemaking legacy of Daniel Berrigan, S.J. | America Magazine
There is so much to say about Dan Berrigan - the inspired leader of the Catholic left - something too little remembered in an era in which conservative popes and bishops used absolute opposition to abortion to promote the political right - which their clericalist authoritarianism made their natural home to begin with.
But for mine - the Vatican II generation - the Church led by encouraging the ecumenical movement in a world of religious pluralism (see John Courtney Murray, S.J.), repudiating its age old anti-semitism (see John Connelly's From Enemy to Brother), and embracing peacemaking and social justice (see Dorothy Day, and Cesar Chavez). In that era no voice was more insistent or prophetic than that of Daniel Berrigan who with his brother Philip led the Catholic peace movement.
The excerpt below is chosen mainly to show that Dan taught at my high school. We brought him to Holy Cross in 1966 to read poetry and talk about the war. I had the good fortune to be his driver. I heard him on other occasions - speaking at rallies, reading poetry, etc. He inspired my entire family. - gwc
Poet and Prophet: The peacemaking legacy of Daniel Berrigan, S.J. | America Magazine'
by Luke Hansen, S.J.
***After being ordained a priest on June 19, 1952, Berrigan went to France for a year of studies and ministry, the final stage of Jesuit formation, and was influenced by the Worker Priest movement. Berrigan professed final vows on the Feast of the Assumption in 1956.
Berrigan taught French and philosophy at Brooklyn Preparatory School from 1954 to 1957, won the prestigious Lamont Poetry Prize in 1957 for his first book of poetry, Time Without Number and then taught New Testament at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.
In 1963, Berrigan embarked on a year of travel, spending time in France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rome, South Africa and the Soviet Union. He encountered despair among French Jesuits related to the situation of Indochina, as the United States ramped up military involvement in Vietnam.
Berrigan returned home in 1964 convinced that the war in Vietnam “could only grow worse.” So he began, he later wrote, “as loudly as I could, to say ‘no’ to the war…. There would be simply no turning back.”
He co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship and the interfaith group Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, whose leaders included Martin Luther King Jr., Richard John Neuhaus and Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Berrigan regularly corresponded with Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and William Stringfellow, among others. He also made annual trips to the Abbey of Gethsemani, Merton’s home, to give talks to the Trappist novices.