January 2016 (supplement)
|These are regular editorials
produced alongside the corresponding issues on Nonviolent
[Return to related issue of Nonviolence News]
So the House on the Hill, the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, has pretty much the same balance of seats as before the 5th May Assembly elections, with just a few changes in the margins even if some of those were interesting enough. This does not augur well for the development of non-sectarian life and politics in the North.
The DUP came out of the election best, keeping their 38 seats, on a campaign largely based around Arlene Foster and keeping her as First Minister (sub-text – keeping Martin McGuinness out of it). Sinn Féin, on the other hand, lost a couple of percentage points and one seat, getting 28; that might be somewhat worrying for them, with policies posited on an inexorable rise towards glory and a United Ireland. It wasn't a success but neither was it a disaster for the Ulster Unionists, SDLP or Alliance, all of them lost a bit and none of them made the advances they hoped for.
One of the most remarked features of the election was the decline in the total 'nationalist' vote (Sinn Féin and SDLP together) of 5.1% on the 2011 Stormont election. There are probably a number of reasons for this, obviously in some way reflecting that Catholics did not feel strongly enough to come out and vote. This is probably because (with some categories overlapping here) some are feeling the current situation is relatively comfortable for them, some did not feel the parties on offer suited their politics (being more radical or conservative themselves), and others rejecting the straitjacket of sectarian politics. There were also local issues in places and broader issues (e.g. abortion) which may have had an effect. But there is a certain irony in this decline while the proportion of Catholics is increasing. It will not necessarily always be thus (a decline).
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØProviding for an 'official' opposition was rapidly jumped at by Mike Nesbitt and the Ulster Unionists, followed later on by the SDLP and Alliance. Previously, all the bigger parties were in the Executive together. But the presence of two People Before Profit MLAs, from Derry and Belfast respectively, and of two Green MLAs (previously one), is likely to help a sense of debate in the chamber. In particular the presence of Eamonn McCann, socialist and, among many other things, anti-militarist, is likely to be a welcome breath of fresh air.
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØHowever the continuation of the carve up of power between the DUP and Sinn Féin in the shape of the OFMDFM is the main concerning factor. Both are parties which came to power through being the most vociferous, recalcitrant political voice on their respective sides during the Troubles. Building a united society would be digging their own political graves. We will see how Arlene Foster's stewardship of the First Minister post goes and it is just about possible that greater opposition presence and vociferousness may goad those in power into action. The stalemate on many issues is due to the stale mates in the power carve up. We can hope for change but the holding of breath is not recommended, with or without more effective opposition than heretofore.
David Cameron does not seem to make it easy for himself. He promised a referendum on Scottish independence because he thought the result would be a foregone conclusion (for union), and it was not; ditto the 'Brexit' UK referendum which takes place on 23rd June. Both questions have profound implications for Ireland, North and Republic. The Brexit referendum was only promised to try to resolve a divisive issue in the Conservative Party but has succeeded in being far more divisive for that party.
Whether the UK stays in the European Union or not will certainly affect Ireland in a multitude of ways. Like the Scottish referendum on independence, the result may not be the final say because if the vote is a narrow 'in', those wanting 'out' may continue to push for that.
There are many reasons for opposing the EU. From our point of view its neo-liberal, privatising regulations and its close alliance with NATO, and attempt to grow into the European wing of NATO, are reason to oppose it. But it does enforce certain aspects of human rights and green policies which are progressive. The problem for peace-and-social-progress opponents of EU membership is the company they are forced to keep – the main impetus for withdrawal from the EU in the UK comes from right and far right factions of the Conservative Party, UKIP, and others; the result of a UK withdrawal could be a bonfire of progressive legislation and a far more xenophobic Britain (and England in particular). The latter is not to be wished for, and it would likely have severe and widespread repercussions for Northern Ireland as well as serious economic implications for the Republic in the short and medium term. But transforming the EU to a more peaceful and people-friendly entity is a massive task.
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØIf the impetus for EU withdrawal – in any country - was coming from progressive elements which also had a peace orientation, then there would be good cause to give it serious consideration. We do not accept the argument that the EU/EEC has 'kept peace' in Europe since the Second World War; following the defeat of German fascism we think it highly unlikely more wars would have developed in western Europe, and the scenario for the wars in the former Yugoslavia were different, and a fuller scale variation of the little wars in Northern Ireland and the Basque country (which are obviously within the EU area). The idea that the EU is 'good' at dealing with conflict is a myth.
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØAside from economic implications North or South, what will happen to the UK and Ireland common travel area has been another issue, with ensuing human rights implications. With a problem to seal the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, speculation is that it would be travel between the island of Ireland as a whole and Britain that would have greater obstacles installed. From a human rights point of view, Brexit could be disastrous for Northern Ireland. It could also hasten UK withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights, previously posited, which is included in the Good Friday Agreement, so thereby hangs more peril. Human rights and fair treatment for all is a cornerstone of the relative peace which exists in Northern Ireland; we disturb those at great risk, and it would be disturbed by a British EU withdrawal, as could Northern Ireland's already poorly performing economy, another threat to wellbeing and thereby to peace.
As indicated above, there are arguments for leaving the EU, and certainly very strong arguments for changing its nature. But at this stage and in this context, caveat Brexit.
Larry SpeightÏã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØ brings us his monthly column –
A Sane Society?
The renowned psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in The Sane Society (1955) explored the issue of whether or not western societies could be considered sane. Given the ecological state of the world today and the range and magnitude of emotional and physical health issues the question is as relevant now as it was 61 years ago. In considering the question we should be mindful that cultural immersion may blind us to the case that values and behaviour that are considered normal may be insane. On this matter Fromm writes.
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØ"The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane." (p.23)
I contend that the following case studies typify the predominant response of our society to environmental and social crisis and suggest, as Fromm concluded, that western societies, if not industrialised societies per se, are insane.
Case Study One: The New York Times, 17 May 2016, informs us that Australia is to lay off Dr. John Church who is rated as one of the world's most knowledgeable scientists in the field of rising global sea levels. He is employed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Csiro) and his departure, along with 275 researchers, will undermine global research efforts into rising sea levels caused by global warming. Dean Roemmich, a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego responded to Dr. Church's removal from climate research as follows.
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØ"To me it is absolutely inconceivable that the Csiro would imagine ditching such a pre-eminent scientist in a field that is so vital to Australia's interests. We have so little idea how rapidly the climate and the sea level are going to change in the coming decades. It is absolutely crazy to be taking anything away from that focus."
Case Study Two: In 2015 it was widely reported in the British press that Kew Gardens, London, considered to be the worlds' leading botanical institution was to make 125 staff, including scientists, redundant because of a £5.5 million shortfall in its annual budget. (Daily Telegraph, 13 March 2015) Kew Gardens is not only renowned for having the most diverse collection of plants in the world but works with botanical institutions across the globe in identifying, classifying and protecting flora, which like fauna, is going through a phrase of human-induced mass extinction.
Case Study Three: In May this year the U.S. Congress rejected President Obama's request that the treasury provide $1.9 billion in research funding to find a vaccine for the rapidly spreading Zika virus which is thought to cause serious birth defects in children. To date there have been 1,300 confirmed cases in Brazil and the virus is circulating in 60 countries. The World Health Organisation has declared the virus a public health emergency. The vector is thought to be the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. President Obama warned that not funding research into the virus would lead to the country, and the world, having to face a much more serious problem in the future. (The Brief, 22 May 2016)
What do these case studies have in common in regard to the question of whether or not society is sane? A defining characteristic of sanity is that we act to protect and further our individual and collective wellbeing rather than knowingly undermine it. These case studies show that we fail to do this. Wilfully sabotaging wellbeing is rooted in alienation from one's humanity and nonhuman nature. On this Fromm writes:
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØ"The insane person is the absolutely alienated person; he has completely lost himself as the centre of his own experience; he has lost the sense of himself." (p.114)
Although self-harm, such as regularly cutting oneself, might be considered an exception to this definition of insanity, the scale of the problem suggests otherwise. Dr Michael McBride, N.I. Chief Medical Officer informed the public in radio and TV interviews on 23 May 2016 that between April 2013 and March 2014 6,000 people in Northern Ireland were treated in hospitals because of self-harm and that this number was probably the tip of the iceberg. These figures strongly suggest that the stress and emotional pain of people who self-harm and their inability to cope lies not in the character of the individuals but in the nature of society. Fromm writes:
"mental health cannot be defined in terms of the "adjustment" of the individual to his society, but on the contrary, that it must be defined in terms of the adjustment of society to the needs of man, … Whether or not the individual is healthy, is primarily not an individual matter, but depends on the structures of society." (p.71)
The enormous sums our society spends on the military and the inadequate amount spent in nurturing people, caring for the vulnerable and protecting eco-systems warrants society being defined as insane. The premise on which the international economic order rests, that there can be unlimited production in a finite world, supports this prognosis. Treating this insanity is not only the job of policy makers and politicians - we all have a role to play. As Adrian Parr, professor of environmental politics and cultural criticism at the University of Cincinnati says in The New York Times, 18 May 2016.
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØ"Ultimately, we are all agents of history. To reduce ourselves to a role of mere observation is to deny us of our humanity."
by Mark Chapman
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØI strongly recommend this form of activism, particularly if you're supported by a wider campaign crowd, TV crews and press turn up and hang around for hours acting as useful legal observers to keep a check on police behaviour, the riot police are flummoxed and unsure about what to do and you have the good fortune to find a bike lock in your bag to lock on with and create a bit of theatre for the media....
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØIn May an Infrastrata drill rig and convoy of about 10 articulated lorries had been tracked arriving off a ferry at Larne, about 15 miles from the Woodburn forest drill site. The Stop the Drill campaign has been active for over a year as reported in these pages and local residents have been particularly supportive of the campaign. It has highlighted a clusterfeck of incompetency by statutory agencies tasked with protecting the environment. This resulted in Infrastrata having permission to start exploratory drilling for oil and gas in a water catchment area without needing planning permission.
The drill rig had an eventful few miles towards the site as campaigners attempted to escort it on a tourist route around Co. Antrim's beauty spots! Then they slowed it to a crawl. It was being escorted at walking pace by campaigners about half a mile from the site when I decided to climb on and immediately set about finding an anchor to lock on to as I expected to be dragged off the rig within minutes. I assumed that the police in Northern Ireland would be at a loss what to do about lockons. Seasoned campaigners there highlighted the dangers to riot police of attempting to remove me (well done Fi and Majella!) and a waiting game developed after I tired of being repeatedly warned about my action and so I told a senior officer that I intended to stay on the rig for 2 days! What? Where did that come from? I was due in work that evening! It turned out to be a useful tactic to create some space and the atmosphere calmed somewhat.
Other campaigners had been prevented from getting water to me but now this was allowed by the police and also some tasty hot food cooked at the protest camp - thanks Lawrence! It was a bit difficult to chat with supporters over the heads of PSNI's finest so I passed the time chatting with the rig driver and crew until the police moved them away too. A major difficulty was having no phone signal and this has made logistics at the camp difficult too. As a relatively recent blow-in at the campaign I wanted to make sure that it was useful for me to stay on the rig as the hours passed and I was reassured that this was the case. The effective media work that the campaign had done resulted in two TV crews and other reporters staying around doing interviews until I came down after about 5 hours. A police cutting crew turned up eventually and came up onto the rig, helpfully giving me plenty of time to lock on. They were pretty chilled for cops and we chatted about the harpist playing at the police cordon (they were well impressed, Ursula).
I had already been talking to the cops about the latest time I could come down to avoid being held in the cells overnight as I really didn't want to go through this again. The cutting crew assured me that they had some kind of hydraulic snips that would just cut straight through the 'U' bike lock I had locked around my neck and onto a steel cable on the rig. I could have stretched out the action for another few hours but at the time the most important thing for me was to be seen among all the other campaigners straight after the lock on rather than being held and taken directly for questioning. I believed this might encourage others to do NVDA (nonviolent direct action) against the drilling operation. So I agreed to come off the rig voluntarily, be arrested and then released on street bail to appear the following morning for interview. They also agreed that I would have about half an hour for any interviews and to hang out with the guys at the camp.
Overall this was one of the most positive NVDA experiences I've had as it generated a lot of media attention for the campaign although I had some explaining to do when I popped up on prime time TV news. Not quite as satisfying as escaping from a police van after a previous action as I've had 3 weeks of bail conditions preventing me from returning to the camp although I've just heard at the time of writing that these conditions have been lifted and now I'm waiting to hear of any court action.
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØOf course the whole action could have been a lot more effective and enjoyable if it had been planned by a focussed affinity group (of much younger activists) but nevertheless I believe it was an effective if largely symbolic action. Oh, by the way if you're intending to take similar actions (and I hope you are!), these drill rigs are coated in dirty grease so can be a bit slippy to move around on and I'll remember to take some latex gloves next time...
- for a collage of newspaper coverage of this event.
by Mairead Maguire
When the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, the Irish Military, Government Members, and many Irish people gathered in Dublin, on Easter Sunday (27th March 2016) to remember the Easter Rising of 1916, some of his challenging words were addressed to the young generation. He encouraged them 'to imagine and to dream ' and he said ' we wish them well as they make music and continue to dream'. The Leaders of 1916 had political hopes and dreams. President Higgins said 'For the leaders of 1916, their political hopes and aspirations for what a free Irish Republic might be, were linked to a rich Irish culture which they cherished and promoted. Within that vision, their ancient Irish language and culture, informed by our history and migration, was central to everything for which they hoped and fought.'
I believe the men of 1916 had a democratic right to their dreams of Irish self-determination and to work for Irish Freedom, but the violent method by which they fought for freedom was ethically and morally wrong. Patrick Pearse, who took part in the 1916 Easter uprising, eulogized the redemptive nature of blood sacrifice. Pearse wrote 'We may make mistakes in the beginning and shoot the wrong people; but blood is a cleansing and a satisfying thing and the nation which regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood, and slavery is one of them, without the shedding of blood there is no redemption as the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the saints, so the blood of the patriot will be the sacred seed from which alone spring new forces and fresh life into a nation which is drifting into the putrescence of decay'.
Pearse's view of the redemptive value of bloodshed and the blood sacrifice interpretation of the events of Easter week have continued to feed the myth of redemptive violence in Irish history. Pearse, I believe, regarded his cause of Irish freedom as a holy cause, and put it above the life of both himself and others. If nationalist (or other) aspirations are elevated above human life and one takes it upon oneself to kill another human being 'for the cause' we are in danger of losing sight of the sanctity and dignity of human life and each other.
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØTherefore, I believe violence is always wrong and there are always nonviolent alternatives to bring about justice and build peace. Whilst we can feel a deep sadness for the suffering the men of l9l6 (and Irish people) endured at the cruelty and violent military/political occupation of their country by the British, and understand their wish for Justice and Irish Freedom, their blood sacrifice was not the way of love, which is the only power to transform the forces of Domination and Control. I believe it is important to say this very clearly and affirm that Religious Leaders need to theologically assess Blood sacrifice in Irish History.
President Michael D. Higgins said in his speech 'the wheel always turns'. Tragically, we Irish are trapped on a wheel of violence, as is indeed the human family. The men of 1916 did have a vision of a free and democratic Ireland, and most of them, James Connolly included, did not support the violence of Imperial wars, but so too was their own violent methods to win Irish freedom flawed nationalism and thus out of the cultural roots of the Christian Spiritual Irish tradition of Nonkilling/Nonviolence (by far the real heart and soul of the Irish people as we have no history of Imperialism and colonization).
Ïã½¶ÊÓÆµappÍøÖ·ÏÂÔØSome days after the 1916 Remembrance Events, led by the President, and attended by the Irish Military, were held, NATO warships docked in Dublin Docks. Irish parents queued to take their little children onto the Warships hosted by the British Navy to be shown the latest technology of war and killing machines. Since 9/11 War on Terror, NATO/USA have carried out perpetual wars against many countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, and many more, killing millions of people and destroying their countries. In Iraq one and a half million children under the age of five died as a result of economic sanctions put on by Western Governments. The Irish Government which has accommodated over three million American soldiers going through Shannon Airport on their USA War Planes, to drop bombs, etc., on civilian populations, must take responsibility for being part of the illegal and immoral wars against these countries. The Irish Government cannot claim to be a neutral country and at the same time provide Irish troops for the European Military defence Battle Groups , and also be one of the world arms export and import countries.
President Michael D. Higgins in his speech invited the people of Ireland to build together a 'just and equal future,' 'to imagine and to dream'. I believe in the Irish people, in people everywhere, that we have a great future when we work together as the human family teaching our children not violence but the nonkilling/nonviolence of our great spiritual traditions and offering them the models of peacemakers such as St. Patrick who in his writing said 'Killing cannot be with Christ' thereby rejecting 'armed struggles' militarism and war. Disbanding the Military (24 countries have no armies) and becoming a Neutral, demilitarized country, and model of Peacemaking and reconciliation, based on morality and integrity, would indeed be a dream and a vision worthy of the people of Ireland.
Nobel Peace Laureate 5/4/2016
Garreth Byrne recalls Dan Berrigan's Irish visits -
From the early 1960s Daniel Berrigan came to international attention through his campaigning against the Vietnam War. He had also spoken in favour of civil rights for black Americans. His anti-war speech on the steps of St. Patrick's cathedral in New York in 1965 was particularly seen as a defiance of Cardinal Spellman's hawkish support for the US war effort. Roman Catholics in Ireland and Great Britain were thus made aware that the idea of a Christian military crusade against godless communist rebels in South Vietnam was simple and questionable. Small numbers of students in Irish universities were becoming interested in pacifist and leftist ideas. Religiously-inspired activists like the late Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King and Dan Berrigan were getting some attention in student religious organizations like Pax Romana and the Student Christian Movement (SCM), and articles about them appeared in publications available for consultation in university chaplaincies. Students in seminaries and postulants in convents came across thought-provoking articles and books.
Daniel Berrigan was invited to address students at Trinity College in Dublin around 1970 or it might have been a year later. He stayed with Irish Jesuits and appeared on television. After a well attended meeting in Trinity College a person involved in radical community work in the working class suburb of Ballyfermot approached Berrigan and said that a delegation of community workers, clergy, civil rights activists and other concerned residents from the Bogside and adjoining Catholic areas of Derry wished to have a private meeting with him. They were anxious to receive practical advice on nonviolent activity that would help them in their work in a city and 'province' that seemed to be heading for civil war at that time. The intermediary from Ballyfermot told me a few years later that Berrigan was emotionally awed that a Derry delegation had come to him for advice. It would be interesting to know what he managed to say to the Derry group at that confidential meeting. As the situation in Northern Ireland deteriorated from 1972 and through the 70s and 80s Berrigan made a number of visits, to give public talks and press interviews and also to have informal meetings with clergy, community activists and political people then known to have backchannel contacts with paramilitaries.
I first saw Berrigan speaking to a huge student gathering at Trinity College in 1973, when I was doing further studies after teaching in Africa for a few years. During his presentation, and when answering questions from the floor, Berrigan stressed the role of nonviolence in long term campaigning for human rights and social change. He mentioned that in the USA he publicly praised the grassroots welfare work of the Black Panther party and its just demands for racial equality; but in private conversations with Black Panther members who argued for a shooting conflict with the police and the national guard, Berrigan was adamant in trying to convince the gun toters that they would be shot down by massive firepower in any firefights, and the cause of racial rights would be set back for years.
After a further spell of work in Africa I frequented the SCM house at 168 Rathgar Road in the south of Dublin during the years from 1977 to 1981, where I wrote for and helped to produce magazines, one of which was Dawn – an Irish journal of nonviolence. I remember one day in 1978 arriving at the door of 168 to find Daniel Berrigan and Fr. Des Wilson emerging from a long private meeting. I saw them shake hands before going for taxis. Desmond Wilson had come to prominence during the early 1970s when he made approaches to clergy of several denominations for joint peace moves. As the 'Troubles' got worse and worse Wilson also helped found the Ballymurphy Community Resource Centre in efforts to sustain and advance the interests of Catholics under severe economic and security stress in that area of West Belfast. Wilson had become estranged from the Bishop in his diocese over theological, ecclesial and military issues. Des Wilson spoke his mind aloud, and more than often it wasn't the Bishop's mind. His personal relations with Protestant clergy became strained, especially during acute crises throughout the conflict when he spoke against injustices against Catholics. Obviously he cultivated friendship with Berrigan on account of the Jesuit priest's stature and proven track record.
The last time I saw Berrigan in Dublin was also at the SCM house in Rathgar Road. I think it was in 1980. This time I met Berrigan, for a couple of minutes with others. He had been talking to other groups in Dublin and elsewhere, and had accepted an invitation to meet students and invited others one evening. Somebody suggested that I go along. Students and others spread around a large room, in small groups as had been suggested. Berrigan was introduced and spoke to the gathering for several minutes. He brought us up to date on some of his anti-war activities in the US and how he was sustained by his Christian nonviolence faith. Then he indicated a wish to 'work the room' and chat privately to smaller groups. Near my group I spotted Dr. Moira Woods with the late Cathal Goulding, a Dublin house painter who was reported in the media in the late 1960s and through much of the 1970s to have been the leader of the Official IRA.
The Officials (also known as the Stickies) had been involved in paramilitary conflict in Northern Ireland until it declared a unilateral ceasefire in the spring of 1972, after Officials had shot dead an off duty soldier based in England who was visiting his home in Derry. Cathal Goulding and Dr. Moira Woods [a former anti-Vietnam War campaigner, a pacifist and member of Official Sinn Fein - later the Workers Party] had been invited to meet Daniel Berrigan at this venue in 1980. On meeting Woods and Goulding, Berrigan stayed chatting to them for more than a few minutes. Berrigan wanted to say things to an ex-paramilitary, and Goulding probably took the opportunity to explain aspects of the Northern problem from a WP perspective – but I am surmising as whatever they said was private and off record. After chatting to all groups Berrigan was invited to celebrate a eucharist with students in a nearby room. He looked jaded, but went ahead. I think he celebrated intimate liturgies like this among many groups that he visited. I didn't participate on this occasion and went home. So too did Woods and Goulding and a few other non-students.
The media reported a couple of visits made to Northern Ireland by Daniel Berrigan in 1979 and the critical hunger strike year of 1981. He was reported as expressing concern about violence and the oppressive situation of Catholics in the province since 1920. Obviously unionists of all hues didn't agree with his anti-colonial interpretation of things; and neither did diplomats from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. These latter had been trying for years to wean Irish-Americans away from traditional Irish nationalist sympathies and fundraising for the Provisional IRA. Berrigan took the view that the Catholics were the historically oppressed minority; but the media also reported his clear words when he stated that "every bomb exploded and every bullet fired makes the Mass less meaningful". He probably repeated such words and counselled nonviolent campaigning during private meetings with Northern Ireland activists – an echo of his public and private dealings with the former Black Panthers. Many Ulster Protestant unionists thought he was pro-Sinn Fein. They did not consider him an authentic man of peace.
Daniel Berrigan was a public activist, a private mediator and counsellor, and a prolific writer. He and his brother Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth MacAllister, with others, made dramatic public gestures against America's involvement in foreign wars. They and their associates were arrested and sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Well planned actions like the destruction of Vietnam draft files with cans of animal blood at Catonsville inspired students and others around the western world. English students in Manchester launched a Christian pacifist magazine in the 1970s titled The Catonsville Roadrunner.
Throughout his long active life Daniel Berrigan remained a Jesuit priest. Jesuits are known within and outside the Roman Catholic Church for their intellectual and sometimes spiritual tour de force. Their tradition in scholarship is to master chosen disciplines 'ad majorem Dei gloriam' – for the greater glory of God. Thus the French Jesuit, Teilhard de Chardin, became an expert on archaeology, anthropology and palaeontology so that he could discuss with his scientific peers of all faiths and none some of the fundamental questions about the origin and nature of the human species. Daniel Berrigan S.J. sometimes called himself "a traditionalist" in key beliefs. Although he supported liberalisation of laws against homosexuality (and drew criticism from Christians who disapproved of gay sex) he drew a red line on abortion and euthanasia, arguing against acceptance of these on nonviolence grounds. Some prominent liberal Christians disagreed with his position on these issues.
Berrigan visited South Vietnam during the war and talked to struggling Buddhist monks among others. He conversed with Christian theologians of various denominations. He worked with Jews, atheists and assorted freelance humanists. He challenged them and he challenged adherents of his own Catholic faith. He challenged privately and he challenged in public. He had a preferential option for challenging the high and the mighty holders of power. Above all he challenged with his actions and his constant commitment to a radical alternative lifestyle. Many individuals and groups disagreed totally with his manner of acting and thinking. He passed peacefully to a higher reward at the grand age of 94. His writings remain to challenge readers. His nonviolence example will challenge future generations of young people seeking worthwhile direction in their lives.
A short piece about Daniel Berrigan appeared in NN 239 in the Readings in Nonviolence.