The Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest who was a leading voice of protest against the Vietnam War, has died. The New York Times reports that Berrigan died Saturday at Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University in the Bronx. He was 94.
“The United States was tearing itself apart over civil rights and the war in Southeast Asia when Father Berrigan emerged in the 1960s as an intellectual star of the Roman Catholic ‘new left,’ articulating a view that racism and poverty, militarism and capitalist greed were interconnected pieces of the same big problem: an unjust society,” The Times reports.
Berrigan and eight other protesters became known as the Catonsville Nine after they set fire to draft records outside the draft board in Catonsville, Md., on May 17, 1968. Berrigan later wrote a play in free verse about the protest, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” which was adapted by Saul Levitt. The play was then adapted into a 1972 film of the same title, produced by Gregory Peck.
In 2003 a documentary, “Investigation of a Flame,” was released that again examined the Catonsville case, with Berrigan and other members of the Catonsville Nine appearing in the film.
The Catonsville protest and subsequent trial “inspired an escalation of protests across the country; there were marches, sit-ins, the public burning of draft cards and other acts of civil disobedience,” The Times notes.