John Dear to speak at P&J AGM on Nonviolent Resistance in the Age of Trump

The Peace & Justice Centre is delighted to announce that John Dear will be our special guest speaker for our AGM on 13 July.

Long time activist, and movement organizer Fr. John Dear is the author of 35 books, including “Living Peace,” and “The Nonviolent Life.” He has been arrested more than 75 times. John was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu and is Outreach Coordinator of Campaign Nonviolence which coordinates hundreds of actions for peace and the environment each year.

A Catholic priest, he has served as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the United States, and after September 11, 2001, as one of the Red Cross coordinators of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center in New York City, and counseled thousands of relatives and rescue workers. He has worked in homeless shelters and soup kitchens, traveled in warzones and been arrested over 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war, including for a disarmament action – known as a Plowshares action.

John writes: “On Dec. 7, 1993, my friends Philip Berrigan, Lynn Fredriksson, Bruce Friedrich and I walked onto the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. at 4am, passed through thousands of soldiers in the middle of full-scale national war games, came upon an F-15E nuclear capable fighter bomber and hammered upon it to fulfill Isaiah’s Advent prophecy that someday, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more.” John served nine months in prison with the renowned Catholic peace and disarmament activist Philip Berrigan for that action and was a very close friend of Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan.

John was a Jesuit priest for decades but was dismissed from the order for, according to the order, being “obstinately disobedient”.

In 2016 John took part in a Vatican conference called “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence” that included 80 participants from around the world who represented broad experiences in peacebuilding and active nonviolence in the face of violence and war.

The participants called on Pope Francis to consider writing an encyclical letter, or some other “major teaching document,” reorienting the church’s teachings on violence. This led to the MESSAGE OF POPE
FRANCIS 
for the 50th World Day of Peace 
1 January 2017: Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace. 

Marie Denis, Co-President of Pax Christi International said Pope Francis makes “very clear” that active non-violence is not mere passivity or withdrawing from engagement in a very violent world. Rather, she says, It is a way of life and a spirituality, but also “a powerful set of tools to help us respond” to threats of extreme violence and danger. She says the Pope takes an important step in the direction of non-violence as a message for the Catholic community worldwide, showing that our way of engaging the world has to reflect the life and teachings of Jesus.

6pm. Informal gathering with light meal at the Peace and Justice Centre – an opportunity for networking and fellowship.

6:45pm John Dear’s talk at the Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace.

8:30pm. P&J AGM.

Please register to our Facebook or Eventbrite event and share to spread the word!

 

John will be co-leading a Reclaiming Gospel Nonviolence Conference 14—16 July 2017 at St. Mary’s Monastery, Kinnoull, Perth, PH2 7BP. For more info on the conference see HERE. 

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Dan Berrigan – Peacemaker – Dies, age 94

Catonsville Nine burn draft files

The great “radical priest” Daniel Berrigan has died. With his brother Philip and a group of Catholic pacifists known as the Catonsville Nine he famously burned draft files, protesting the Vietnam War, in 1968 and with the Plowshares Eight, he hammered on the nosecone of a nuclear missile, inspiring a wave of similar symbolic disarmament actions around the world. After being convicted for the Catonsville action Dan went underground, popping up at anti war demonstrations, eluding the FBI and, when caught, he spent two years in Federal prison.

Dan Berrigan with Howard Zinn in Hanoi. Photo: howardzinn.org

With the historian Howard Zinn he travelled to North Vietnam and obtained the release of three American pilots, telling the story in the book Night Flight to Hanoi, and he appeared with Jeremy Irons in the film The Mission. He said his epitaph should be: “It was never dull. Alleluia.”

Berrigan was a prolific writer of poetry and prose. He wrote: “Of course, let us have peace, we cry, ‘but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties … ‘ There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war – at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison, and death in its wake.”
 

But Dan Berrigan was a peacemaker. He was arrested hundreds of times, consistently, nonviolently protesting US wars, bombing, torture. His way with words coupled with dramatic action propelled him to fame. In a “Meditation” on Catonsville he wrote: “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise…. The time is past when good men can remain silent, when obedience can segregate men from public risk, when the poor can die without defense.”

 

And his brand of peacemaking certainly brought notoriety. The first US priests to be arrested for anti war protests Dan and Phil were, notably, pictured on the cover of Time magazine, and Dan’s obituary, fittingly, appears on the front cover of yesterday’s New York Times.

 
Among those inspired by Dan Berrigan were Sister Megan Rice, the 84 year old Catholic nun who broke into the Y12 complex in Tennessee where US nuclear weapons are built and Fr John Dear who hammered on an F15-E nuclear-capable fighter-bomber in North Carolina. Sr Megan and Fr John have both spoken at the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre.
 
I met Dan Berrigan when he spoke at Georgetown University in 1983, just a few years after the Plowshares Eight action near my hometown in Pennsylvania. I was deeply impressed by his talk and asked him what I could do to work for peace. He answered enigmatically that there were many things to do. And so there have been. And so there are.
Dan Berrigan’s life stands as a call to peacemaking, a call to action.
John Dear gives a more detailed account of the life of Dan Berrigan in The Huffington Post. 
Brian Larkin
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