Peace activist Fr Daniel Berrigan SJ has died

The American Jesuit priest and poet Daniel Berrigan - famous for leading defiant protests against the Vietnam War - died on Saturday in New York aged 94.

Father Berrigan emerged as a radical Catholic voice against the war in the 1960s and won fame when he and his younger brother Fr Philip Berrigan seized draft records of troops about to be deployed in Vietnam. Together with seven others they burned the files. The group were convicted of destroying government property and sentenced on 9 November 1968 to prison terms ranging from two to 3.5 years.

Through his life Fr Berrigan went on to protest against the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and abortion. in 1980 he founded the anti-nuclear weapons Plowshares Movement in 1980. He is reported to have taken part aged 92 in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York's Zuccotti Park.

Fr Berrigan was born into a German-Irish Catholic family in Minnesota and joined the Jesuit order in 1939, becoming ordained in 1952.

Berrigan credited Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker movement, with introducing him to pacifism and influencing his thinking about war.

He wrote more than 50 books, with his first volume of poetry, Time Without Number, winning the Lamont Prize in 1957. He also wrote a play: The Trial of the Catonsville Nine. Berrigan's writings include "Prison Poems," published in 1973; "We Die Before We Live: Talking with the Very Ill," a 1980 book based on his experiences working in a cancer ward; and his autobiography, "To Dwell in Peace," published in 1987.

Asked in a magazine interview for an inscription for his gravestone, Fr Berrigan said: "It was never dull. Alleluia."

Watch Fr Daniel reading one of his own poems:

Read also Bruce Kent's tribute here:

Tags: Berrigan brothers, Daniel Berrigan, peace campaign

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