SCM mourns passing of peace activist and priest Fr Daniel Berrigan
SCM today mourns the passing of Fr Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest and peace activist who influenced many people within the movement. Berrigan died at the age of 94 on 30 April in the company of family members. He spoke at ‘Seeds of Liberation’, SCM’s annual conference in January 1973, which became a defining moment in the movement’s history.
Writing in a blog post, SCM member Ross Jesmont said: “Daniel Berrigan's life is an example of what is looks like to live with integrity. To live a faithful witness to Jesus' teaching. In his addresses to the SCM [in 1973] he taught the importance of scripture and the centrality of community. For me his examples, words and questions continue to shape my faith.”
Less than a year before the conference in January, Berrigan had just been released from prison in the United States, under charges of burning draft files in protest at the Vietnam War. He played an crucial role in energising the anti-war movement at the time, and in 1980 founded the ‘Plowshares Movement’ by protesting the construction of nuclear missiles at the General Electric nuclear missile facility in Pennsylvania, US.
At SCM’s 1973 conference, Berrigan spoke about the need for people to renew faith and spirituality within the pursuit of peace and justice, highlighting the importance of Scripture in understanding and tackling the realities of the world. He spoke to an audience of over 350 participants, who also heard from Alistair Kee who laid the foundations for a new prophetic calling, saying, ‘unlike the politicos who have no time for religion, unlike the religious who have no time for the political, the new situation requires a personal integration of two traditions.’
In 2013 SCM held another Seeds of Liberation conference to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1973 event. In an interview in Movement magazine issue 143, Fr John Dear SJ said Berrigan was “one of the greatest peacemakers in modern times. He helped me understand that Jesus is nonviolent, calls us to be peacemakers, and that you can’t be a Christian and support war.”
Tags: Daniel Berriganjesuitnonviolenceanti-warcampaignsseeds of liberation