Was the action effective? For the nine participants, utility was not the only point. They acted out of moral obligation and the desire to stir reaction from the public and from Catholic leadership. Whether the event furthered antiwar movement goals is a matter of debate, but several consequences are apparent.
News around the World
The Catonsville Nine certainly succeeded in drawing public attention. Crafted for maximum media attention, the action and ensuing trial were covered above the fold in newspapers around the world. The press focused mainly on priest brothers Philip and Daniel Berrigan, the heroes of the Catholic left. Now celebrities, the charismatic Phil and the more reflective Dan appeared on the cover of Time magazine with the caption "Rebel Priests."
Many Americans were shocked to see clergymen defying the law in this extravagant way. For others, the action sparked debate, especially among Catholics. These were priests, not long-haired young radicals, and this fact provoked discussion around dinner tables in many Catholic homes.
The Antiwar Movement
Although today it may be difficult to understand just how radical the Catonsville Nine action seemed at the time, the raid offered the peace movement a new form of protest. The action reinvigorated resistance to the draft and inspired a series of Catholic "number group" actions over the next few years, including the Milwaukee Fourteen and the New York Eight.