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Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit Priest, Anti-war Activist, Dies at 94

  • VOA News

FILE - The Rev. Daniel Berrigan is handcuffed by a New York City Police officer in front of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York, after he and others blocked an entrance to the venue, April 13, 2001. Berrigan died Saturday at the age of 94.

FILE - The Rev. Daniel Berrigan is handcuffed by a New York City Police officer in front of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York, after he and others blocked an entrance to the venue, April 13, 2001. Berrigan died Saturday at the age of 94.

The Rev. Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, poet and peace activist, "died peacefully" Saturday at the age of 94 after a "long illness," a spokesman for the Jesuits USA Northeast Province said.

Berrigan died at Murray-Weigel Hall, a Jesuit health care community in New York City, said spokesman Michael Benigno.

Berrigan, along with his younger brother the Rev. Philip Berrigan, became a leader of the radical anti-war movement in the 1960s.

The Berrigan brothers were convicted and sent to prison for burning draft files in Catonsville, Maryland, in a protest against the Vietnam War in 1968.

Went into hiding

Their case was unsuccessfully appealed, which led the Berrigan brothers and three co-defendants went into hiding.

Philip Berrigan turned himself in to authorities in April 1969, and the FBI arrested Daniel Berrigan four months later.

The Berrigan brothers were sent to the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. Daniel Berrigan was released in 1972 after serving about two years. Philip Berrigan served about 2.5 years.

When asked in 2009 by America, a national Catholic magazine, whether he had any regrets, Daniel Berrigan replied: "I could have done sooner the things I did, like Catonsville."

Berrigan was born into a German-Irish Catholic family in Virginia, Minnesota, and grew up in Syracuse, New York. He joined the Jesuit order in 1939 and was ordained a priest in 1952.

Pacifist movement

Berrigan, who wrote poetry as a seminarian, credited Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker newspaper, with introducing him to the pacifist movement and influencing his thinking about war.

In 1980, the Berrigans and six others broke into a General Electric nuclear missile site in Pennsylvania, and damaged warhead nose cones and poured blood onto documents and files.

Philip Berrigan died of cancer at the age of 79 in 2002.

Berrigan also protested the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, abortion, and took part in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York's Zuccotti Park, Jesuits Magazine said.

He more than 50 books, and his first volume of poetry, Time Without Number, won the Lamont Prize in 1957. Berrigan also wrote a play, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.

Berrigan also worked at institutions from Union Seminary, to Loyola University New Orleans, Columbia, Cornell, Yale and Fordham, the Jesuit university in the Bronx, New York.

Some material for this report came from AP, Reuters and AFP.

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