Fr. Berrigan - the radical priest.
Dan reopened the door on faith for many of us 60s revolutionaries, radicals and rebels! He was the anti Vietnam War priest (who traveled to Vietnam along with his friend the historian Howard Zinn in the cause of peace during the war), the civil disobedience priest (who spent years in jail), the priest who reminded us of Jesus the revolutionary killed by empire! He was the priest of protesters...our priest. It mattered so much that he and his brother Phillip who came from the establishment world of our parents (how much more establishment can you get than Roman Catholic priests ?) to a generation of long haired, pot smoking, protesting, peace and love rock and rollers! Hippies got arrested not priests for godsakes!
Without out doubt the government hated the radical religious folk. The Rev. Martin Luther Kings, the Berrigans and all those whom they couldn't easily smear and slander and write off as freaks, potheads and drop outs. In Dan there was an iron will and phenomenal courage to step forward in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience when he knew a vengeful government and spiteful judges and prosecutors would likely send him to prison for years of his life. We saw that courage and it gave us the strength to know our cause was just. It is different now when the 60s are over and are a permanent part of the historical record and our anti war protesting is an established part of our culture. Back then it was different. Back then... We were amazed and inspired by the courage of a radical priest.
I hope Dan enjoyed seeing the arrival of Pope Francis. Fr. Berrigan once told me that he chose to work for change from within the church as a priest while his brother would marry and challenge those rules. Hearing Pope Francis I can only smile when I think that Dan finally saw that change begin to happen as he knew it should. Other popes suppressed Liberation Theology, this pope embraces it.
God blessed us with the radical priests (and nuns) back in the 60s. It was the priests and nuns and the civil rights ministers and pastors who couldn't be easily dismissed by cynicism and hate who led us. They were the peaceful warriors whose courage was matched only by their love of justice and peace. You'll never know what a thrill it was unless you were there back then when Fr. Daniel Berrigan went underground to escape arrest. The 60s!
He was our radical priest come to get us released!
Thank you Fr. Berrigan for all your help.