"I came out of that war a good killer."
_ former World War II infantry platoon officer Phil Berrigan
Phil died at Jonah House on December 6, 2002, the community of resistance he and his partner Liz McAlister founded in Baltimore. In October, Phil was diagnosed with liver and kidney cancer.
Raised in Syracuse with his brothers Dan and Jerry, Phil spent the past 40 years single-mindedly resisting racism and war, especially nuclear war. A former priest, cumulatively Phil spent about 11 years in prison for his nonviolent acts of resistance.
He wrote six books, including an autobiography, Fighting the Lamb's War.
A reading from the writings of Philip Berrigan:
We all have to take responsibility for the bomb. The bomb is destroying us spiritually, morally, psychologically, emotionally and humanly. This responsibility will create the new human, the new creation, and the just social order, that the scriptures speak about.
Nonviolence in the best sense is a strict and definitive social justice. God is perhaps most apparent to us and present to us through the enemy, through the warmakers, who make nuclear hostages out of us; through the politicians who lie to us; through the generals who supposedly protect us yet in reality protect the rich; and on and on. They're our true enemies and we have to love them and to work for their conversion. All of that comes under the heading of nonviolence.
We are expected to do good, to do justice in our lives and we're expected to resist evil. So I would say that we have to continue resisting war as long as we live. The US claims to be the only superpower in the world and you don't maintain a superpower status unless you are armed to the teeth. The US will continue with weapons development, star wars, and a permanent war economy, because to do otherwise, is to shift the status quo and redistribute the wealth here in this country. We need to keep resisting this business of making war.
The disarmament of our nuclear weapons needs to be a priority for us. A voice for the victims has to be raised. We're in a position to do that. That's what the denial of the self and taking up the cross is about, becoming a voice for the victims of the state.
Living out the resurrection today means turning away from the violence in our lives and taking responsibility for the violence of the state. We resurrect to the extent that we take responsibility for the victims of the state.
Peacemaking needs to be our priority. Peacemaking is not only a central characteristic of the Gospel, peacemaking is the greatest need of the world today. We are daughters and sons of God, and that means we are called to be peacemakers.