Daniel Berrigan

American Catholic priest, peace activist, and poet

Daniel Joseph Berrigan (May 9, 1921 – April 30, 2016) was an American Jesuit priest, anti-war activist, Christian pacifist, playwright, poet, and author. Daniel and his brother Philip performed non-violent actions against war.

Daniel Berrigan in 2008

QuotesEdit

  • Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.... The time is past when good men can remain silent, when obedience can segregate men from public risk, when the poor can die without defense.
    • "Meditation" written before burning the draft files at Local Board No. 33 and entered as evidence in the trial of the Catonsville Nine.
  • I think of the good, decent, peace-loving people I have known by the thousands, and I wonder. How many of them are so afflicted with the wasting disease of normalcy that, even as they declare for the peace, their hands reach out with an instinctive spasm ... in the direction of their comforts, their home, their security, their income, their future, their plans—that five-year plan of studies, that ten-year plan of professional status, that twenty-year plan of family growth and unity, that fifty-year plan of decent life and honorable natural demise. “Of course, let us have the peace,” we cry, “but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties.” And because we must encompass this and protect that, and because at all costs—at all costs—our hopes must march on schedule, and because it is unheard of that in the name of peace a sword should fall, disjoining that fine and cunning web that our lives have woven, because it is unheard of that good men should suffer injustice or families be sundered or good repute be lost—because of this we cry peace and cry peace, and there is no peace. There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war—at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.
    • No Bars to Manhood (1971), p. 49.
  • One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible."
  • I come to the abortion question by way of a long, long experience with the military and the mainline violence of the culture, expressed in war ... So I go from the Pentagon and being arrested there, to the cancer hospital, and then I think of abortion clinics, and 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
    • Reflections (Amherst, Mass.), vol. 2, no. 4 (Fall 1979), 1-2. [2]

Responses to Settler RegimesEdit

  • I do not wish to begin by “taking sides”; nor indeed to end by “taking sides.” I am sick of “sides”; which is to say, I am sick of war; of wars hot and cold; and all their approximations and metaphors and deceits and ideological ruses. I am sick of the betrayal of the mind and the failure of compassion and the neglect of the poor. I am sick of foreign ministers and all their works and pomps. I am sick of torture and secret police and the apparatus of fascists and the rhetoric of leftists. Like Lazarus, staggering from his grave, or the ghost of Trotsky I can only groan: “We have had enough of that, we have been through all that.”
  • In calling attention to this proposal I am simply urging that attention be paid to the first sane option that has arisen in the course of this suicidal adventure. Indeed there are no sides worth talking about tonight. There are indeed immense numbers of people whose lives and rights are being violated, degraded and denied. Any real solution will take into account these peoples: the Palestinians—a people without a country; the Israelis—a people in danger; the Arab nations—a people invaded. How carefully one must proceed on these matters if he is not to worsen an already tortured situation.
  • I endorse the Egyptian ceasefire proposal while opposing many aspects of the Egyptian regime, and of the Sheikhdoms, and of Jordan and Syria. We must take into account their capacity for deception, which is remarkable even for our world. We must take into account their contempt for their own poor, a contempt that would be called legendary if it were not horrifyingly modern. We must take into account their willingness to oil the war machinery of the superpowers making them accomplices of the American war criminals. We must take into account their cupidity masked only by their monumental indifference to the facts of their world. no, I offer no apologia tonight for the Arab states any more than I do for Israel.
  • It is entirely logical for instance, that Russia, which crushed the Czechs, is now in the process of crushing the Ukrainians, and bottling the brains of political dissidents on the shelves of psychiatric morgues. It is entirely logical that the U.S., which determined to crush the Vietnamese, also spent a considerable part of the ‘60’s “mopping up” political dissidents at home. Imperialism has no favorites; it freezes all it touches. It is thus not to be wondered at that torture has been applied to Israeli citizens as well as to suspect Palestinian terrorists. It is logical that Israeli workers are exploited, even while the indigenous peasants are rooted out and their villages destroyed. Logical too, that racist ideology which brought the destruction of the Jewish communities at the hands of the Nazis should now be employed by the state of Israeli, fostering the myth of the “barbarian Arab,” and of Israel the “sublime expression of the liberation of the Jewish people.”
  • In Israel, military might is increasingly both the method and the goal of political existence. Her absurd generals, her military junk, are paraded on national holidays before the narcoticized public. The model is not the kingdom of peace, it is an Orwellian transplant, taken bodily from Big Brother’s bloody heart. In Israel, the democratic formula is twisted out of all recognition; the citizens exist for the well-being of the state; it follows, as the imperialist corollary, that that measure of terrorism and violence and murder is applied to dissidents, as shall guarantee the “well-being of the state,” as the ominous phrase is understood by those in power.
  • Dear Friends, my concluding words are addressed especially to the Arab peoples. My argument with you is also made in a spirit of love and even deep concern. You have suffered greatly from colonialism and colonization and your demand for justice and self-determination deserved more attention than it has received. Yet my central argument with you is ultimately my argument with the Jewish people, in the sense that both of you have ignored your own symbols and history. But in different ways. Israel has betrayed her exodus by turning it into military conquests. And the Arabs have often betrayed their resistance to rhetorical violence and blind terrorism. The question of the weekend is: What else can we do?
    • Responses to Settler Regimes Oct. 19th 1973 [3]

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