The Catonsville Nine File
About the siteAbout the collections
HomeThe planning and consequences of the Catonsville Nine actionThe trial of the Catonsville NineHistorical context of the Catonsville Nine actionProfiles of the Catonsville NineBrowse the collections
A letter from Daniel Berrigan to George, Bill O'Connor, Bill Kunstler and Dan Kilfoyle, July 17, 1968

A letter from Daniel Berrigan to George, Bill O'Connor, Bill Kunstler and Dan Kilfoyle, July 17, 1968
View smaller version of image Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
Collection: Cornell University Library
Date: 1968-07-17
Date of Digitization: 2004
Source: Daniel and Philip Berrigan Collection, #4602. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
Original Dimensions: ?
Creator: Berrigan, Daniel, 1921-
Cornell Wednesday, July 17

Dear George, Bill (0'Connor) Bill (Kunstler) Dan (Kilfoyle) and all men and women of fire 
                                                                                            and blood -
I want, if you can bear with this terrible typewriter, to share with you a few 
things from an interview with Harrup Freeman. I went over everything we hashed 
out at the N.I. meeting some days ago.

Harrup is in general agreement with the things we came to. I'd like to stress 
with George and Bill O'c, the necessity of getting a place nailed down for the 
evening 'trial' or forum. H. suggests we get Georgetown to send a few law students 
who would conduct the thing as a moot trial. ... If we wanted to think big, it 
might be possible to film these proceedings for t.v. use in other cities... Or, 
Ithaca just rehashed the Spock trial, with several lawyers and students from the 
Law school taking part, for the benefit of the city itself. Could we in some way 
hang this into the interest we are trying to create around the case nationally? 
If there is a really prestigious list of people show to help us in B'more during 
the trial, they would be willing surely, to have their statements available for 
others in other places...

H. stressed, as did Bill K., the necessity of many friends being present at the 
trial, esp. religious people. 

H. sees the following as important issues.
    1) 'Religious' rights. This would apply mainly to Phil, Bro. David and myself. 
    Members of religious orders have special responsibility to resist unjust laws, 
    giving example to the community. Esp. for the Jesuits, it should be possible to 
    show that religious life since Ignatius has been geared to public responsibility 
    and that the 'cloister' concept of holiness is outmoded. There should be theol-
    ogians, and esp. Jesuit theologians, to testify to this, and to write on this, 
    and be able to refer to their writings on these points. The writings of Phil 
    and myself on this subject should be available. Dan Kilfoyle: - Harrup thinks 
    this is one of the best contributions we can make to the record, stresses the 
    importance of Jesuit presence - for character witnesses, for witnesses to the 

    b) H. would like to see a presentation of the Catholic position in general, 
    from contemporary point of view. I.e., all the defendants acted out of their 
    own conscience, informed by a sense of their own tradition. Here it seems to me, 
    we could draw on lay theologians such as Callahan and Novak, etc., to show that 
    Catholic Christians belong where we were, doing what we did.. Zahn important 
    here, also Douglass of U. of Hawaii.

    c) the more general 'rights of conscience' theme. Every man obligated to act accord-
    ing to conscience. Presumption in favor of this activity during this war; e.g., sense 
    of the educated lay, professional, religious, academic and even military community, 
    on illegality a nd immorality of the war.

    d) modes of speech (symbolic and actual) and freedom.

    Thus far Harrup... I presume by now Paul has been hired and is operating?.. 
    I will be in N.Y. in time for the N.Y. meeting on Mon. night, and will be caught 
    up on things then.  I had the idea of writing Corita asking her to design an in-
    vitation to our trial - lots of color and pazaaz, we could send it to everyone on 
    all our lists... I hope to see Phil on Saturday with others of the family. You may 
    know that Tom is still in Lewisburg. Harrup is not optimistic either on the bond 
    appeal or the sentence appeal. I will give Phil a rundown of things, and convey your 
    love, and bring back whatever news... Will be in Yonkers until August first. After 
    that, can be reached through Cornell, where I will leave my whereabouts.