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Remembering Daniel Berrigan - May 3, 2016

Special Memorial Issue: Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Joseph Berrigan, S.J.

May 9, 1921 – April 30, 2016

We’re sad to report the death of Dan Berrigan April 30, just days before his 95th birthday, from natural causes. At the same time, we celebrate the long life of this effective consistent-life advocate. Most famous for his long-lasting anti-war activism and many books and poetry on peace and social justice, we always knew him as a dear friend. Berrigan in the News as a Consistent-Life Advocate The historic newspaper article “Retreat Links Activism Against War, Abortion,” from May 25, 1989, relates how he was arrested in civil disobedience at a military center and then at a hospital performing abortions as part of the same action. From an article by the National Catholic Reporter on the occasion of Dan turning 89: “Dan's contemplative rhythm of listening and going public puts him in the tradition of the towering prophets . . . who notwithstanding the vast distance in time, have become Dan's mentors and models. Like them, he denounces war, weapons, arms races, corrupt regimes, miscarriages of justice, assaults on human rights, and threats to widows and orphans, the unborn and prisoners.”


Berrigan Remembrances Include his Consistent Stand A lengthy obituary in the National Catholic Reporter says: "Berrigan received criticism from the political left for his pro-life views. He was a longtime endorser of the 'consistent life ethic,' and he served on the advisory board of Consistent Life, an organization that describes itself as 'committed to the protection of life, which is threatened in today's world by war, abortion, poverty, racism, capital punishment and euthanasia.'

"I have always made it clear," Berrigan said in the America interview, "that I am against everything from war to abortion to euthanasia."

Photo: October 27, 1991, Daniel Berrigan sits in to protest Planned Parenthood abortions, soon to be arrested for doing so. In their obituary on May 1, Crux magazine noted: “Despite his image as a radical lefist, Berrigan was also an outspoken opponent of abortion. During a 1984 talk at a Catholic parish in the Crchdiocese of Milwaukee, Berrigan denounced what he called a ‘theory of allowable murder’ in contemporary society. Christians should have no part in ‘abortion, war, paying taxes for war, or disposing of people on death row or warehousing the aged,’ Berrigan said on that occasion.” Crux followed up the next day in a May 2 Crux article on how he embodied the “cultural revolution” of Pope Francis says: “nowhere does Berrigan write his theology more clearly than in the area of the consistent ethic of life. Through his activism and writing, Berrigan was abundantly clear that this consistency meant opposing the 'culture of death' universally on a range of issues as diverse as war, the death penalty, euthanasia, poverty, and abortion. Why? Precisely because he didn’t consider those to be diverse issues at all. They all dealt with killing God’s creatures. That, Berrigan said in the bluntest way possible, is a sin.”


Quotations from Daniel Berrigan

Reflections (Amherst, Mass.), vol. 2, no. 4 (Fall 1979), 1-2.

I come to the abortion question by way of a long, long experience with the military and the mainline violence of the culture, expressed in war . . . So I go from the Pentagon and being arrested there, to the cancer hospital, and then I think of abortion clinics, and I see an "interlocking directorate" of death that binds the whole culture. That is, an unspoken agreement that we will solve our problems by killing people in various ways; a declaration that certain people are expendable, outside the pale. . . A decent society should no more have an abortion clinic than the Pentagon.” Signing an online petition in opposition to Amnesty International’s move to endorse abortion as a “right” in 2007: My moral conviction on abortion and the rights of the unborn are more serious than “a point of view" . . . It's as close to my conscience as war and the death penalty.


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