Daniel Berrigan Reprint Series

daniel Berrigan is one of the most influential American Catholics of the twentieth century. A Jesuit priest, poet, and peacemaker, he has inspired countless people of faith and conscience to pursue the gos- pel vision of a world without war or nuclear weapons. Born in 1921, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1939, was ordained in 1952, and in 1957 published his first book of poetry, Time Without Number, which won the prestigious Lamont Poetry Award.
Since then daniel Berrigan, my friend and Jesuit brother, has published over fifty books, including the award-winning play, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1970); an autobiography, To Dwell in Peace (1987); and many journals, essays, poetry collections, and scripture commentaries. dan maintained close friend friendships with Thomas Merton and dorothy day. He also co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship and Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam. But because of his early peace work, church authorities banished him to Latin America in 1966 and 1967. in early 1968, he traveled to Hanoi with Howard Zinn to experience firsthand the horrors of U.S. war-making and to rescue three U.S. soldiers who had been captured.
on May 19, 1968, with his brother Philip and other friends, he burned military draft files using homemade napalm in Catonsville, Maryland--an action which galvanized millions against the Vietnam war. For this creative nonviolence, dan was tried, convicted, and sentenced to years in prison. in April of 1970, however, he went underground, eluding the FBi, and continued to draw widespread
attention to his antiwar message. He was finally arrested in August, and imprisoned in danbury, Connecticut until February 1972.
He continued to write and speak against war and nuclear weap- ons throughout the 70s. on September 9, 1980, both he and Philip participated in the first Plowshares Action, a protest at the General electric Plant at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. He faced ten years in prison, but was eventually sentenced to time served.
Since the early 1970s, dan has lived in New York City with his Jesuit community. He continues to give lectures, conduct re- treats, publish books of poetry and scripture study--and get ar- rested for his protests against war, injustice, and nuclear weapons. He remains a clear voice of resistance to war, gospel nonviolence, and peace for humanity.
Throughout his faithful, peacemaking life, daniel Berrigan has consistently said no to every war, injustice, and weapon of violence. And with every no he accepts the cost. And he does not give up. Nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize, dan often finds himself with friends before some judge and sitting on ice in some dismal holding cell. Such is the mark of a prophet, the sign of an apostle of peace.
"we have assumed the name of peacemakers," dan writes in No Bars to Manhood,
but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any sig- nificant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total--but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial. 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.
"The only message i have to the world is: we are not allowed to kill innocent people," he told the court during his Plowshares eight trial.
we are not allowed to be complicit in murder. we are not allowed to be silent while preparations for mass murder pro- ceed in our name, with our money, secretly. . . . it's terrible for me to live in a time where i have nothing to say to human beings except, 'Stop killing.' There are other beautiful things that i would love to be saying to people. There are other projects i could be very helpful at. And i can't do them. i cannot. Because everything is endangered. everything is up for grabs. ours is a kind of primitive situation, even though we would call ourselves sophisticated. our plight is very primitive from a Christian point of view. we are back where we started. 'Thou shalt not kill'; we are not allowed to kill. everything today comes down to that--everything.
i am very grateful to wipf and Stock Publishers for republishing some of dan's classic works in a series, books which influenced mil- lions of people when they first appeared. i hope these books will be studied, passed around to friends and neighbors, and promoted far and wide. They still offer great hope, wisdom, and encouragement.
in the life and words of daniel Berrigan we discover new faith in the God of peace and courage to pursue God's reign of peace. we see signs and guideposts for the path ahead, toward a new future of peace. And we find strength to take our own stand for justice and disarmament, to take another step forward on the road to peace and nonviolence. May these books inspire us to become, like daniel Berrigan, peacemakers in a world of war.
--John dear Cerrillos, New Mexico August 2007
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  1. They Call Us Dead Men

    Daniel Berrigan

    Wipf and Stock / APR 2009

    To become and be a mature human being, to be alive, in the midst of such a drama in which all people do in truth live, describes a radical participation. To be alive means, as Father Berrigan puts... read more »

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