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.