Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Titan of the Catholic Left

A few years back, I mentioned the Berrigan brothers as members of a sadly diminished Catholic Left in a post about the Conservative freakout over the 'nuns on a bus'. It was with great sadness that I read of Father Daniel Berrigan passing away at the age of 94.

Father Berrigan was the sort of holy troublemaker who, with his brother and brother priest Philip, causes the powerful to tremble, caused the powerful to quake in their boots... a burner of draft cards, a tireless anti-nuclear weapons crusader, a civil rights supporter. Fr Berrigan served time in prison for his antiwar activities. He was also a poet and playwright.

In an era in which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops seems like a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, obsessed with the sexual proclivities and activities of consenting adults, it's nice to be reminded that there is a Catholic Left, concerned more about matters of peace and social justice. Even though Fr Berrigan was a Jesuit, he truly embodied the ideals embodied in the Prayer of St Francis (though the Jesuits and the Franciscans have a rivalry not quite entirely unlike the East Coast/West Coast rap war of the 90s). He was an individual who believed in a powerful, positive peace- not just an absence of strife:


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.



With the passing of Fr Berrigan, the Catholic Left has lost a titan.

3 comments:

Nasreen Iqbal said...

Berrigan wasn't mentioned by Pope Francis, but Pople Francis does seem to herald a high point of the Catholic Left, relatively speaking. While in America, he mentioned people like Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

We're a long way from when the future Pope Pius XII described fascism for a young John Kennedy as "secular Catholicism."

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

There are plenty of lefty sorts in South America.

The European establishment tries to keep them at bay.
~

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Berrigan wasn't mentioned by Pope Francis, but Pople Francis does seem to herald a high point of the Catholic Left, relatively speaking. While in America, he mentioned people like Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

Bennigan was too radical, too dangerous, to mention, while Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton were more palatable to the bourgeoise. It's like Republicans trying to co-opt MLK but not even trying to 'rehabilitate' Malcolm X... too dangerous, too controversial.

The European establishment tries to keep them at bay.

And the North American establishment is even worse.