Phil Berrigan, a WWII veteran, lifelong anti-war activist and founder of the Plowshares Movement, was the first Roman Catholic priest to be imprisoned for political reasons in the United States.
Today is Memorial Day and on Democracy Now! we are going to celebrate it by commemorating the life of Phil Berrigan, a WWII veteran and lifelong anti-war activist. Philip Berrigan was the first Roman Catholic priest to be imprisoned for political reasons in the United States. Berrigan was first jailed in 1967 for destroying draft files in Baltimore. In 1968 he was arrested for burning draft files in Catonsville, Maryland, in a case that became known as the “Catonsville 9.”
Phil Berrigan died last December at Jonah House, a community he co-founded in 1973, surrounded by family and friends. He died two months after being diagnosed with liver and kidney cancer, and one month after deciding to discontinue chemotherapy.
During his nearly 40 years of resistance to war and violence, Berrigan focused on living and working in community as a way to model the nonviolent, sustainable world he was working to create. Jonah House members live simply, pray together, share duties, and attempt to expose the violence of militarism and consumerism. The community was born out of resistance to the Vietnam War, including high-profile draft card burning actions; later the focus became ongoing resistance to U.S. nuclear policy, including Plowshares actions that aim to enact Isaiah’s biblical prophecy of a disarmed world. Because of these efforts, Berrigan spent about 11 years in prison. He wrote, lectured, and taught extensively, publishing six books, including an autobiography, Fighting the Lamb’s War.
Today we are going to hear an audio collage of Phil Berrigan interviews produced by Pacifica Peacewatch’s Scott Gurian and Laurel Paget-Seekins. It features one of the last recorded interviews with Berrigan from October, 2002.
- Phil Berrigan commemoration