November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website,, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to, a multimedia blog and resource center.

Search site - New! Calendar - Calendar Archive
Contents - Archives - War Crimes - GI Special - Student Activism - Links

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

Philip Berrigan, Anti-War Activist, Dies at Home in Baltimore, MD
(scroll down or click on links to see Family's Press Release, a Poem by Doug Rokke,
the Baltimore Sun Obituary, and Chronology of Philip Berrigan's life)

PHIL'S STATEMENT 12/05/02 (via Liz McAlister)
Philip began dictating this statement the weekend before Thanksgiving. It
was all clear - he had it written in his head. Word for word I wrote...

WHEN I LAY DYING...of cancer
Philip Berrigan

I die in a community including my family, my beloved wife Elizabeth, three
great Dominican nuns - Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, and Jackie Hudson
(emeritus) jailed in Western Colorado - Susan Crane, friends local, national
and even international. They have always been a life-line to me. I die with
the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are
the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy them,
use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth itself. We
have already exploded such weapons in Japan in 1945 and the equivalent of
them in Iraq in 1991, in Yugoslavia in 1999, and in Afghanistan in 2001. We
left a legacy for other people of deadly radioactive isotopes - a prime
counterinsurgency measure. For example, the people of Iraq, Yugoslavia,
Afghanistan and Pakistan will be battling cancer, mostly from depleted
uranium, for decades. In addition, our nuclear adventurism over 57 years has
saturated the planet with nuclear garbage from testing, from explosions in
high altitudes (four of these), from 103 nuclear power plants, from nuclear
weapons factories that can't be cleaned up - and so on. Because of myopic
leadership, of greed for possessions, a public chained to corporate media,
there has been virtually no response to these realities...

At this point in dictation, Phil's lungs filled; he began to cough
uncontrollably; he was tired. We had to stop - with promises to finish
later. But later never came - another moment in an illness that depleted
Phil so rapidly it was all we could do to keep pace with it... And then he
couldn't talk at all. And then - gradually - he left us.

What did Phil intend to say? What is the message of his life? What message
was he leaving us in his dying? Is it different for each of us, now that we
are left to imagine how he would frame it?

During one of our prayers in Phil's room, Brendan Walsh remembered a banner
Phil had asked Willa Bickham to make years ago for St. Peter Claver. It
read: "The sting of death is all around us. O Christ, where is your

The sting of death is all around us. The death Phil was asking us to attend
to is not his death (though the sting of that is on us and will not be
denied). The sting Phil would have us know is the sting of institutionalized
death and killing. He never wearied of articulating it. He never ceased
being astonished by the length and breadth and depth of it. And he never
accepted it.

O Christ, where is your victory? It was back in the mid 1960's that Phil was
asking that question of God and her Christ. He kept asking it. And, over the
years, he learned

· that it is right and good to question our God, to plead for justice for
all that inhabit the earth

· that it is urgent to feel this; injustice done to any is injustice done to

· that we must never weary of exposing and resisting such injustice

· that what victories we see are smaller than the mustard seeds Jesus
praised, and they need such tender nurture

· that it is vital to celebrate each victory - especially the victory of
sisterhood and brotherhood embodied in loving, nonviolent community.

Over the months of Phil's illness we have been blessed a hundred-fold by
small and large victories over an anti-human, anti-life, anti-love culture,
by friendships - in and out of prison - and by the love that has permeated
Phil's life. Living these years and months with Phil free us to revert to
the original liturgical question: "O death, where is your sting?"

Family's Press Release

Baltimore, MD - Phil Berrigan died December 6, 2002 at about 9:30 PM, at
Jonah House, a community he co-founded in 1973, surrounded by family and
friends. He died two months after being diagnosed with liver and kidney
cancer, and one month after deciding to discontinue chemotherapy.
Approximately thirty close friends and fellow peace activists gathered for
the ceremony of last rites on November 30, to celebrate his life and anoint
him for the next part of his journey. Berrigan's brother and co-felon,
Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan officiated.

During his nearly 40 years of resistance to war and violence, Berrigan
focused on living and working in community as a way to model the nonviolent,
sustainable world he was working to create. Jonah House members live
simply, pray together, share duties, and attempt to expose the violence of
militarism and consumerism. The community was born out of resistance to the
Vietnam War, including high-profile draft card burning actions; later the
focus became ongoing resistance to U.S. nuclear policy, including Plowshares
actions that aim to enact Isaiah's biblical prophecy of a disarmed world.
Because of these efforts Berrigan spent about 11 years in prison. He wrote,
lectured, and taught extensively, publishing six books, including an
autobiography, Fighting the Lamb's War.

In his last weeks, Berrigan was surrounded by his family, including his wife
Elizabeth McAlister, with whom he founded Jonah House; his children Frida,
28, Jerry, 27, and Kate, 21; community members Susan Crane, Gary Ashbeck,
and David Arthur; and extended family and community. Community members
Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Dominican sisters, were unable to be
physically present at Jonah House; they are currently in jail in Colorado
awaiting trial for a disarmament action at a missile silo, the 79th
international Plowshares action. One of Berrigan's last actions was to
bless the upcoming marriage of Frida to Ian Marvy.

Berrigan wrote a final statement in the days before his death. His final
comments included this: "I die with the conviction, held since 1968 and
Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for
them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the
human family, and the earth itself."

The wake and funeral will be held at St. Peter Claver Church in West
Baltimore, (1546 North Fremont Avenue, Baltimore MD 21217); calling hours:
4-8 PM Sunday December 8 with a circle of sharing about Phil's life at 6 PM;
funeral: Monday, December 9, 12 PM. All are invited to process with the
coffin from the intersection of Bentalou and Laurens streets to St. Peter
Claver Church at 10 AM (please drop off marchers and park at the church). A
public reception at the St. Peter Claver hall will follow the funeral mass;
internment is private. In place of flowers and gifts for the offertory,
attendees may bring pictures or other keepsakes. Mourners may make donations
in Berrigan's name to Citizens for Peace in Space, Global Network Against
Nuclear Weapons, Nukewatch, Voices in the Wilderness, the Nuclear Resister,
or any Catholic Worker house.

For my friend:

Phil Berrigan: Disciple of Peace (1923- 2002)
The world has lost a valiant peacemaker.

A man whose entire existence was dedicated to peace.
From WWII through Gulf War I to today
He sought peaceful solutions to complex problems
While many only talk Phil acted.
He acted with conviction and willingness to suffer retaliation
He acted for all of the citizens of the world.
Today we mourn his loss but must rejoice in knowing that God has called his
"Disciple of Peace" to his side.
May we all learn from Phil's dedication.
May we all learn that we must make the commitment to peace.
May we all learn that peace begins with each of us.
May we all walk in the footpath of the "Disciple of Peace".
May we all strive to complete Phil's earthly mission.
For "Peace" is the hope, dream, and goal of all.
Let's make Phil' s dream his legacy.
The fulfillment of "Peace on Earth"

Doug Rokke

The following article is reprinted from the Baltimore Sun as a "fair use" for educational purposes. Copies of this article may be available from the source on-line or via mail. This website has no authority to grant permission to reprint this article. At times we copy an article, with attribution, rather than link directly to the source as media links are often unstable, e.g. the article moves from the source's linked page to an archive, thereby creating a bad link on this site.

Baltimore Sun

Philip Berrigan, apostle of peace, dies at age 79
Josephite father called protests 'prophetic acts'

By Jacques Kelly and Carl Schoettler
Sun Staff

Originally published December 7, 2002

Philip Berrigan, the patriarch of the Roman Catholic anti-war movement
whose conscience collided with national policy for more than three
decades, died last night of liver and kidney cancer. He was 79 and had
lived at Jonah House on the grounds of a West Baltimore cemetery for
much of the past decade.

He led the Catonsville Nine, who staged one of the most dramatic
protests of the 1960s. They doused homemade napalm on a small bonfire of
draft records in a Catonsville parking lot and ignited a generation of
anti-war dissent. More recently he helped found the Plowshares movement,
whose members have attacked federal military property in anti-war and
anti-nuclear protests and were then often imprisoned.

Mr. Berrigan died at 9:30 p.m. at the Jonah House, a communal living
facility of war resisters.

In a final statement released by his family, he said, "I die with the
conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are
the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy
them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth

Though Mr. Berrigan was an Army veteran - he was a second lieutenant in
the infantry - who fought across Western Europe in World War II, he
persistently and publicly criticized the Vietnam War and U.S. foreign
and domestic policy. He first gained national attention during part of
the 14-year period during which he wore the Roman collar and clerical
garb of a Josephite priest.

He eventually served some 11 years in jail and prison for his actions
challenging public authority and repeated bashing of the military

Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University who maintained a
friendship with Mr. Berrigan through the years because they had similar
views, called him "one of the great Americans of our time."

"He believed war didn't solve anything," Mr. Zinn said. "He went to
prison again and again and again for his beliefs. I admired him for the
sacrifices he made. He was an inspiration to a large number of people."

Mr. Berrigan saw his protests as "prophetic acts" based on the Biblical
injunction to beat swords into plowshares, and that included the
"symbolic" destruction of Selective Service records in raids on draft
board offices in the Baltimore Customs House in 1967 and in Catonsville
in 1968. He was also convicted of smuggling letters in and out of the
federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa., while an inmate there in 1970,
though the conviction was later thrown out. The end of the Vietnam War
failed to silence him; he continued his missions of dissent until the
end of his life.

In his most recent clash in December 1999, Mr. Berrigan and others
banged on A-10 Warthog warplanes in an anti-war protest at the Middle
River Air National Guard base. He was convicted of malicious destruction
of property and sentenced to 30 months. He was released Dec. 14 last

Mr. Berrigan's brother Daniel, a Jesuit priest and poet who participated
in the 1968 Catonsville protest, later wrote the play The Trial of the
Catonsville Nine, which ran on Broadway for 29 performances in 1971 and
was made into a movie a year later. It recounted verbatim episodes from
the trial and the moral dilemmas of the Vietnam War era.

"We confront the Catholic Church, other Christian bodies and the
synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of
our country's crimes," said a statement Philip Berrigan and his eight
fellow protestors issued that day in Catonsville. "We are convinced that
the religious bureaucracy in this country is racist, is an accomplice in
this war and is hostile to the poor."

He expanded those views to include opposition to almost any form of
established government that would wage war, deploy nuclear weapons or
even use nuclear power. Neither he nor any member of the Jonah House
community had voted for years because of their dismissal of government.
"We don't know whether we're qualified to vote because we're all
felons," he said recently. "But we intend to pursue it for the elections
in 2004 because it's pretty important to get Bush out of there."

Philip Francis Berrigan was born Oct. 5, 1923, in Two Harbors, Minn.,
then a thriving mining town on the Mesabi Iron Range.

According to a 1976 Current Biography profile, Mr. Berrigan stressed the
influence of his father, Thomas, a trade unionist turned Socialist who
lost his job as a railroad engineer.

Mr. Berrigan later characterized his father as a "tyrannical" man. He
said he father's treatment left him apt to "bristle against authority."
"Our mother (Frida) was a mild woman, dedicated to her six sons and to
her religion," said his brother, Jim Berrigan, a retired electrical
engineer who lives in Salisbury.

After graduating from high school in Syracuse, N.Y., Mr. Berrigan
cleaned New York Central Railroad locomotives. A good athlete, he was a
first baseman who played with a local semi-professional team. He also
enjoyed golf and basketball in college.

He spent one semester at St. Michael's College in Toronto before being
drafted into the U.S. Army in January 1943 for service in World War II.
He was an artillery man in some of the fiercest action from Normandy to
the Battle of the Bulge, where he was chosen to go to infantry school
near Paris. He served out the rest of the war as an infantry officer, a
second lieutenant.

He earned an English degree at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester,
Mass. In 1950, he followed his brother Jerome into the Society of St.
Joseph. The order, known as the Josephite Fathers, serves
African-American communities.

Ordained in 1955, he was assigned to New Orleans, where he earned a
degree in secondary education at Loyola University of the South in 1957
and a master's at Xavier University three years later.

While at Xavier, he began teaching English and religion and counseling
students at his order's St. Augustine High School.

"From the beginning, he stood with the urban poor," Daniel Berrigan
wrote of his brother's years in the priesthood. "He rejected the
traditional, isolated stance of the Church in black communities. He was
also incurably secular; he saw the Church as one resource, bringing to
bear on the squalid facts of racism the light of the Gospel, the
presence of inventive courage and hope. He worked with CORE [Congress of
Racial Equality], SNCC [Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee], the
Urban League, the forms of Catholic action then in vogue. He took
Freedom Rides, did manual work of all kinds, begged money and gave it
away, struggled for scholarships for black students."

Philip Berrigan, in a recent Sun interview, said his first arrest of
many came in 1962 or 1963 during a civil rights protest in Selma, Ala.,
at which point his name began appearing in newspapers. He would become
quite adept at surviving in prison. He got along with the other
prisoners, even murderers sometimes, and they accepted him. He led Bible
study classes and helped prisoners with educational and legal matters.
If he had extra money, he would buy items from the prison commissaries
for down-and-out inmates.

As an activist priest, Father Berrigan soon got in trouble with his
church superiors. He was transferred to the faculty of Epiphany
Apostolic College, a Josephite seminary in Newburgh, N.Y., where he
again led protests on behalf of the poor.

Rosalie Bertell, 73, of Buffalo, N.Y., an activist and member of the
order of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, said she admired Mr.
Berrigan for his "blunt honesty" and for the "choices he made in life."
A longtime friend of the Berrigan family, Ms. Bertell is an
internationally recognized expert on radiation and testified as an
expert witness in trials where he was arrested for anti-nuclear
demonstrations. "He knew the U.S. was becoming a killing machine, and he
was willing to go to jail trying to stop it."

As the United States expanded its presence in Vietnam, Father Berrigan
became more outspoken and visible. In 1964, he organized the Emergency
Citizens Group Concerned About Vietnam in Newburgh and co-founded the
Catholic Peace Fellowship in New York City.

Frustrated by the church's failure to speak out against the war, he
compared its stance on Vietnam to "the German Church under Hitler."
In another speech, he asked, "Is it possible for us to be vicious,
brutal, immoral, and violent at home and be fair, judicious, beneficent
and idealistic abroad?"

Not long afterward, Father Berrigan's Josephite superiors transferred
him again, this time to St. Peter Claver Church in West Baltimore.
"He was an excellent curate, much respected in the community back in the
1960s," said the Rev. Michael Roach, a former Southwest Baltimore pastor
who is now at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manchester.

While at St. Peter Claver, Father Berrigan started the Baltimore
Interfaith Peace Mission. He made frequent trips to Washington to lobby
Congress and federal officials and lead vigils and other peace

On Oct. 27, 1967, Father Berrigan and three others dumped blood on
Selective Service records in the Baltimore Customs House, "anointing"
them, he said. They waited to be arrested, as they would in subsequent
protests. His arrest shocked the Catholic Church.

In a statement to reporters, the Baltimore Four said that "this
sacrificial and constructive act" was meant to protest "the pitiful
waste of American and Vietnamese blood" in Indochina.

It was a new kind of protest. The Baltimore chancery said the action was
likely to "alienate a great number of sincere men in the cause of a just

Philip Berrigan and the three others were charged and convicted of
defacing government property and impeding the Selective Service. While
awaiting sentencing, Mr. Berrigan began recruiting brother Daniel and
seven others for a second "prophetic act."

The Catonsville Nine chose Selective Service Board 33, housed in a
Knights of Columbus hall on Frederick Road in Catonsville.

According to a Sun account, the nine walked into the draft board office
on May 17, 1968, moved and swept aside stunned clerks and emptied filing
cabinets of 600 draft records.

They set the records afire with homemade napalm in the parking lot, said
a prayer and waited for arrest. They spent the night in the Baltimore
County Jail in Towson.

Charged with conspiracy and destruction of government property, Mr.
Berrigan and his companions were found guilty in U.S. District Court in
Baltimore on Nov. 8, 1968. They were free on bail for 16 months until
the U.S. Supreme Court declined to reconsider the verdict.

But on the day they were supposed to begin serving their sentences, the
Berrigan brothers and two others went into hiding. Twelve days later,
FBI found Philip Berrigan at the Church of St. Gregory the Great in
Manhattan, and he was taken to the federal prison in Lewisburg.

Mr. Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister, a former nun, a member of the
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, had secretly married a year
earlier, in, as they put it, "trust and gratitude." The marriage was not
disclosed until 1973, when there was a ceremony at which a former monk

A fellow inmate at Lewisburg, who was allowed to take courses at a local
college, carried messages between Mr. Berrigan and his wife.

Ms. McAlister kept Mr. Berrigan informed of what was being done and said
in the peace movement. They were unaware that the inmate carrying their
messages was a paid informer and that copies of everything they wrote
were going to the FBI.

The FBI's scrutiny led to the capture of Daniel Berrigan, to the arrest
of draft resisters in Rochester, N.Y., and to the indictment of Philip
Berrigan, Ms. McAlister and five others.

The government indicted the Harrisburg Seven on 23 counts of conspiracy,
including plots to kidnap presidential adviser Henry A. Kissinger and to
blow up heating tunnels in Washington. Defense lawyers, including Paul
O'Dwyer, Ramsey Clark and Leonard Boudin, saw the conspiracy indictments
as a "gross caricature," and the charges were later modified.

In April 1972, a jury in Harrisburg, Pa., found Mr. Berrigan and his
wife guilty on the letter-smuggling charges but deadlocked on all the
other counts. A mistrial was declared. Everything was later thrown out
by a federal appeals court.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills, who lived in Baltimore from
1961 to 1980, said he participated in the anti-war demonstrations with
the Berrigans.

"I've known them for decades and I've written about them, and Phil has
always been an inspiration to me," Mr. Wills said. "Phil was a real
pacifist. He always turned the other cheek."

Mr. Berrigan and Ms. McAlister helped start the anti-war and
anti-nuclear Plowshares movement in the three-story Reservoir Hill
rowhouse on Park Avenue they called Jonah House, in which they lived in
community with other activists for years before moving into the old St.
Peter the Apostle Cemetery in West Baltimore.

Mr. Berrigan was the author of several books, including No More
Strangers, Punishment for Peace, Prison Journals of a Priest
Revolutionary and Widen the Prison Gates. In 1996, he wrote his
autobiography, Fighting the Lamb's War, and with his wife wrote The
Times' Discipline, a work on their life together at Jonah House.

The funeral will be held at noon Monday at St. Peter Claver Church in
West Baltimore, 1546 N. Fremont Ave. A wake will be held at the church
from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, with a circle of sharing at 6 p.m.
Memorial donations may be made to Citizens for Peace in Space, Global
Network Against Nuclear Weapons, Nukewatch, Voices in the Wilderness,
the Nuclear Resister, or any Catholic Worker house.

Survivors include Ms. McAlister; two daughters, Frida, a prolific writer
who is a research associate at the World Policy Institute and a member
of the War Resister's League executive committee, of New York, and Kate
Berrigan, a senior at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio; a son, Jerry
Berrigan, a member of the Catholic Worker who is also involved in
anti-war, anti-nuclear and anti-death penalty movements, of Luck, Mich.;
four brothers, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest in New York,
John Berrigan of Prescott, Ariz., Jim Berrigan of Salisbury and Jerome
Berrigan of Syracuse, N.Y.

Chronology of Philip Berrigan's Life

Philip Berrigan, 1923-2002

Born: October 5, 1923, Minnesota Iron Range, near Bemidji to Frieda Fromhart
and Thomas Berrigan

1943-1945: Served in WWII, artillery officer, Europe.

1949: Graduated from Holy Cross College.

1955: Ordained a Catholic Priest in the Josephite Order, specializing in
inner city ministry.

1956-1963: Taught at St. Augustine's high school, New Orleans, a segregated
all black school.

1962 (or 3?): First priest to ride in a Civil Rights movement Freedom Ride.

1963-1965: Taught at a Josephite seminary, Newburgh, NY.

1966: Published first book, No More Strangers.

1966: Served at St. Peter Claver parish, Baltimore, MD.

October 27, 1967: Poured blood on draft files in Baltimore with 3 others.
Known as the "Baltimore Four."

May 17, 1968: Burned draft files in Catonsville, MD with 8 others, including
his brother, Fr. Daniel Berrigan. Action known as the "Catonsville Nine."
Convicted of destruction of US property, destruction of Selective Service
records, and interference with the Selective Service Act of 1967. Sentenced
to prison.

1970: Married Elizabeth McAlister, an activist nun, Religious of the Sacred
Heart of Mary.

1970: Became a fugitive when appeals failed. Captured and returned to

1971: Named co-conspirator by J. Edgar Hoover and Harrisburg grand jury
while in prison. Charged with plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and blow
up the utility tunnels of US Capitol buildings. Convicted only of violating
prison rules for smuggling out letters.

1973: Co-founded Jonah House community of war resisters in Baltimore, MD.

April 1, 1974: Birth of Frida Berrigan at Jonah House.

April 17, 1975: Birth of Jerry Berrigan at Jonah House.

1975: End of Vietnam War and beginning of focus on weapons of mass
destruction and changing U.S. nuclear policy. Actions included pouring of
blood and digging of graves at the White House and Pentagon resulted in
several jail terms ranging up to six months.

1975: Atlantic Life Community conceptualized as East Coast counterpart to
Pacific Life Community.

1976: First of summer community building sessions; led to triannual Faith &
Resistance Retreats in DC.

September 9, 1980: Poured blood and hammered with 7 others on Mark 12A
warheads at a GE nuclear missile plant, King of Prussia, PA. Charged with
conspiracy, burglary, and criminal mischief; convicted and imprisoned.
Action known as the "Plowshares Eight;" began the international Plowshares

1980-1999: Participated in 5 more Plowshares actions, resulting in ~7 years
of imprisonment.

November 5, 1981: Birth of Kate Berrigan at Jonah House.

1989: Published The Times' Discipline, on the Jonah House experience, with
Liz McAlister.

1996: Published autobiography, Fighting the Lamb's War.
December 14, 2001: Released from Elkton, OH prison after nearly a year of
imprisonment for his final Plowshares action.

July 12, 2002: Underwent hip replacement surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital,
Baltimore, MD.

October 8, 2002: Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, cancer in the liver and

December 6, 2002: Died at home in Baltimore, surrounded by family and

Page created November 25, 2002 by Charlie Jenks.