Letter from Philip Berrigan to Jim, December 2, 1967
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||Cornell University Library
|Date of Digitization:
||Daniel and Philip Berrigan Collection at the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
||Berrigan, Philip, 1923-2002
In the letter, probably to James Forest (one of the leaders of FOR and CPF), Philip Berrigan refers to the differences between the antiwar actions taken by himself and Daniel Berrigan, among others, and those of Fellowship of Reconcilliation and Catholic Peace Fellowship. He calls actions of both of the organizations as timid, over cautious and ineffective, in contrast to those taken by himself and his brother, where personal sacrifice, risk and suffering were required. He states that in these times only decisive protests are heard and taken into account, not the reluctant ones. He withdraws his support to both of the organizations.
be building their broad base as the Bombs come in. I will refuse to
indict anyone's conscience, but I don't have to cheer their work, which
seems to me safe, unimaginative, staffish and devoid of risk or suffer-
As Dan told Tom (and I agree) we have been led to different roads, ones
which seem to us more at grips with this awful war and the insanity
of our country. To stop this war I would give my life tomorrow, and
I cannot be blamed if I have little time for those who want to run
ads in the N.Y Times or deal with CRS. Both Dan and I are seriously
dealing with clergymen and laymen, professionals and family people
who have come to the point of civil disobedience and the prospect of
jail, and are even foundering with convictions beyond that point.
As Johnson continues to have his war, and that means the probabability
of invading North Vietnam, we will either witness from jail, or we
will go ahead with social disruption, including non-violent attacks
against the machinery of this war. Naturally, I will identify with
people willing to go this far.
In a word, I believe in revolution, and I hope to continue a non-
violent contribution to it. In my view, we are not going to save this
country and mankind without it. And I centrally concerned with the
Gospel view that the massive suffering of this war and American im-
perialism around the world will only be confronted by people who
are willing to go with suffering as the first move to justice.
If George Mische developes this tack, I will help him- if he does not,
I won't. There are too many other people to work with who will.
As I have said, I'm reluctant to hurt my friends- people to whom I
have incalculable debts. But obviously, this is not always a service,
and perhaps this is one occasion when it is not. I will continue to
respect your conscience whatever the course you take. But it may not
be my own, and it is most certainly not at the present. And if your
conscience remains largely at variance with my own, while continuing
to dominate CPF policy (as it must) then it would be inconsistent
and false to continue using my name. In short, I don't support CPF
policy now, so why say that I do on the letterhead.