Anti-war priest Daniel Berrigan dies in US, aged 94

Supporters mourn Roman Catholic priest imprisoned for burning draft files in protest against Vietnam War.

Daniel Berrigan, a priest, poet and lifelong activist, campaigned against wars including the 1990 and 2003 US invasions of Iraq [File: AP]
Daniel Berrigan, a priest, poet and lifelong activist, campaigned against wars including the 1990 and 2003 US invasions of Iraq [File: AP]

Daniel Berrigan, a Roman Catholic priest and prominent anti-war campaigner, has died at the age of 94. 

Michael Benigno, a spokesman for the Jesuits USA Northeast Province, said Berrigan died on Saturday at a Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University, New York.


Former reporter discusses media’s role in Vietnam war

A peace activist, Berrigan wrote more than 50 books, including several on religion and activism, as well as poetry collections. 

He won the prestigious Lamont Prize in 1957 for Time Without Number, a volume of his poetry. 

He and his younger brother, the Reverend Philip Berrigan, in the 1960s became leaders of the anti-war movement against the US invasion of Vietnam.

Berrigan was once imprisoned for burning draft files in a protest against the Vietnam War in 1968. 

The brothers entered a draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, in May 1968 with other activists and removed records of young men about to be shipped to Vietnam. The group took the files outside and burned them.

The Catonsville Nine, as they came to be known, were convicted on federal charges. 

OPINION: The real state of the union – social justice 

In 1980, the Berrigans and six other activists broke into a General Electric nuclear missile site in Pennsylvania, where they doused files in blood and damaged warhead nose cones.

Daniel Berrigan later campaigned against the 1990 and 2003 US invasions of Iraq, as well as the Kosovo war and the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. 

Berrigan gained international notoriety when he was imprisoned for his campaigning against the Vietnam War [File: Ron Frehm/AP]

Several journalists and activists mourned his death on Twitter. 

Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist and cofounder of The Intercept website, reflected on meeting Berrigan. 

Berrigan had gone into hiding after being found guilty and sentenced to prison time in 1970 for the draft card burning incident. He was later arrested and stayed in prison until 1972. 

Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore said Berrigan was a “hero” who influenced his life’s work. 

In a statement released on Saturday, the Berrigan family said they were “bereft”, but celebrated the late priest’s life.

“We reflect back on his long life and we are in awe of the depth and breadth of his commitment to peace and justice – from the Palestinians’ struggle for land and recognition and justice; to the gay community’s fight for healthcare, equal rights and humanity; to the fractured and polluted earth that is crying out for nuclear disarmament; to a deep commitment to the imprisoned, the poor, the homeless, the ill and infirm.” 

Berrigan went into hiding in the early 1970s after being prosecuted for burning draft cards to protest the Vietnam war [File: Marty Lederhandler/AP]
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


More from News
Most Read