Bard News & Events

Press Release


Darren O'Sullivan

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—On Thursday, September 26, Daniel Berrigan, S.J., a Jesuit priest, social activist, and poet—called "the granddaddy of the Catholic protest movement" by the New York Times—will give a talk, "The Peacemaking Christian in the Warmaking State" at Bard College. Though a prolific author and poet, Berrigan, who is 81, is best known for his protests against the Vietnam War and nuclear arms. His long history of activism has earned him numerous trips to jail, a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, a brief stint on the FBI's most-wanted list, and a spot in a Ben & Jerry's ad. His talk, in conversation with Father Paul Murray, the Catholic chaplain at Bard; Thomas Keenan, director of the college's Human Rights Project; and Bard social studies professor Joel Kovel, is free and open to the public. It will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center.

"Daniel Berrigan's passionate commitment to justice and peace shows the truest, if often neglected, face of Catholicism," said Father Murray, who is also visiting assistant professor of religion at Bard. "Today, as the appetite for militaristic options takes on new dimensions, the voice of Father Berrigan, who has spent a lifetime at the front lines of peace activism, is needed more than ever."

Berrigan, who has devoted his life's work to interpreting the Bible through nonviolent civil protest and community work, gained national attention as a social activist in 1968 when he, his brother Philip and seven other protestors used homemade napalm to burn a stack of stolen draft registration cards in Catonsville, Maryland. In 1970 he was sentenced to three years in prison; he was paroled in 1972, after serving 18 months. His subsequent play about the event, The Trial of the Catonsville 9, won an Obie Award on Broadway. In 1980 the Berrigan brothers were leaders in the first Plowshares action, a protest against a weapons manufacturing plant run by General Electric in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in which protestors hammered on warheads, poured blood on documents, and offered prayers for peace.

Berrigan also participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides, traveled to Hanoi in 1968 to help obtain the release of three American pilots, and has counseled prisoners and the terminally ill around the world, particularly in New York City, where he lives and teaches. He was arrested with other activists last January in New York City for blocking the doors of the U.S. mission to the United Nations, to protest of the bombing of Afghanistan. Berrigan's activism has made him the target of criticism by Catholic Church leaders, other Jesuits, journalists, and politicians.

Berrigan has written more than 50 books, including Daniel: Under the Siege of the Divine, Night Flight to Hanoi, and Time Without Number, which won the Lamont Poetry Award. His talk at Bard is presented by the chaplaincy, the Religion Program, and the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard.

For more information on the Berrigan talk, call 845-758-7438 or e-mail

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This event was last updated on 09-06-2002