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Anti-War Activist Daniel Berrigan Dies

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to take a moment now to mark the passing of a lifelong Catholic peace activist and poet, a Jesuit priest who was at one time on the cover of Time magazine and later, the FBI's Most Wanted List. Father Daniel Berrigan came to national attention as one of the so-called Catonsville Nine, a group of devout Catholic activists who were arrested and imprisoned for a dramatic act of civil disobedience in protest of the Vietnam War.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PRIESTS: Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us...

MARTIN: In May 1968, Berrigan and eight others walked into the offices of the local draft board in Catonsville, Md. They grabbed hundreds of Selective Service cards, brought them to the parking lot and burned them using homemade napalm. They held hands and prayed as the papers went up in smoke. And then they were arrested.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Going to take you to the station. Right in the back of the paddy wagon.

MARTIN: In the documentary "Investigation Of A Flame," Berrigan described the trial that followed, where prosecutors presented boxes of burnt draft cards.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "INVESTIGATION OF A FLAME")

DANIEL BERRIGAN: And they introduced those in evidence, as though they were important. And they were nothing. I mean, we had burned papers instead of children. That was our crime.

MARTIN: Berrigan was sentenced to three years in prison but went into hiding before his eventual capture. Berrigan continued his peace activism for the next four decades, following his release in 1972. He wrote more than 50 books of secular and religious commentary and poetry. Father Daniel Berrigan died Saturday in New York City at the age of 94. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.