Passing the Peace

Jesuit Daniel Berrigan is no ordinary Catholic priest. In 1970, he was one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted. (He’d gone into hiding after he and eight others—the Catonsville Nine—protested the Vietnam War by torching draft files with homemade napalm outside a Maryland draft board office.) Ten years later, he hammered on nuclear missile nose cones at a General Electric manufacturing plant—a symbolic act of “beating swords into plowshares” that eventually earned him a two-year prison sentence.

These weren’t just youthful acts of rebellion; Berrigan’s faith-based nonviolent demonstrations have continued into his “retirement years.” As an 80-something, the Jesuit priest was handcuffed for protesting the U.S. detention prison at Guantanamo Bay. In the periods between nonviolent civil disobedience and prison sentences, Berrigan has explored the deep faith that fuels his peace efforts in more than 50 books, including several collections of poetry. He has also taught university students, led spiritual retreats, and volunteered with AIDS and cancer patients.

Last year, Sojourners interns traveled to New York to meet with the legendary activist, now 88, who now lives in the Kairos peace community in Manhattan. The interns, who live together as an intentional community during their year of service, asked Father Berrigan to share his reflections on community, activism, and art with Sojourners intern Jenn Svetlik.

Sojourners: It’s been more than 20 years since you wrote your autobiography, To Dwell in Peace. What might you add to it if you were to write it today?

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Sojourners Magazine March 2010
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