Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland's 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate - - she shared the prize with Betty Williams -- on December 17 nominated Dan and Phil Berrigan for the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize.
Here is her statement:
On 17th December 1997, I nominated Rev. Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip Berrigan for the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize. These two brothers are the most prominent faith based voices for peace and nonviolence in the United States. I nominated these two men, as for many years I have been inspired by their courageous actions against war and nuclear madness. They follow in the footsteps of an American woman for whom I had great admiration -- Dorothy Day.
As a young member working in the Legion of Mary in Andersonstown, Belfast, I sometimes helped in Regina Coeli Hostel for destitute women. Through this work I learned of the work of Dorothy Day, Founder of the Catholic Worker in America. In 1977 I went to the Catholic Worker in New York to meet Dorothy. She lived in a little room in the Center sharing the poverty of New York's bagladies. I was shocked by the extreme poverty and the sheer numbers of homeless. I have many times visited the States and each time continue to be shocked by the poverty I see, in all states I have visited. I love America, and there are many things to be admired, but I long for the day when the American people will raise their voices together and demand that their Government stop squandering billions of their tax money, and instead divert it to feeding the hungry. Dorothy Day was a true prophet of nonviolence and even in death her voice is heard. She challenged her Government to divert its huge military budget towards feeding the hungry and dealing with its growing social problems.
But prophets arise in every generation to speak truth to those in power and their voices are heard no matter how hard it is tried to silence them. Such a voice is that of Philip Berrigan. Philip is a 74 year old former Josephite priest, the father of three children and co- founder of Jonah House, a peace community in Baltimore, Maryland. He is currently serving a two year prison sentence in a Federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia for an anti-nuclear demonstration at the Bath Iron Works, a military shipyard in Bath, Maine, USA.
Together with his brother, Rev. Daniel Berrigan, a 77 year old Jesuit priest, poet, and author of over 50 books, they have during their lifetime, inspired many people by carrying out acts of civil disobedience and thereby taking on themselves much suffering, but always refusing to inflict pain or suffering on fellow humans. On 17 May, 1968 Phil and Daniel Berrigan were arrested with seven others in Catonsville, Maryland USA for burning US draft files with homemade napalm in opposition to the Vietnam War. The Catonsville Nine action attracted international attention and sparked hundreds of similar actions. Millions of people joined in the public outcry against the war because of their witness. Daniel Berrigan served two years in prison for this action and nearly died while in prison. He was released in 1972. Philip Berrigan served two and a half years.
On September 9th, 1980 Daniel and Philip Berrigan and six others entered the General Electric nuclear manufacturing plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, USA and hammered on the unarmed nuclear nose- cone, thereby symbolically "beating swords into plowshares" following the vision of the biblical prophet Isaiah. Their ten year prison sentence was appealed and overturned in 1990.
Both Daniel and Philip have each been arrested hundreds of times in peaceful, prayerful acts of civil disobedience against preparation for war.
We are all indebted to Daniel and Philip Berrigan for their efforts on all our behalf. They continue to attract widespread media interest and discussion to influence religions and politics, and to be a source of inspirations to countless people around the world. From his jail cell in Maine, Philip Berrigan wrote in November, 1997:
"We will not abolish nuclear weapons, not win representation in government, not reduce the staggering gap between rich and poor, not stop the occupation of the United States by military and corporate elites until we learn again to say NO! How much time will God allow us to end this mad march towards death and destruction of the planet? We have already had over 50 years. Only an act of God, working through the sacrifices of thousands of valiant people has forestalled nuclear war. But the danger is still imminent. Moreover, the planet is profoundly poisoned and becomes more so as we delay. We pray with you from prison that you offer a redounding NO! to the curse of war, nuclear and interventionary. So help us God.!"
In nominating Philip and Daniel Berrigan for the Nobel Peace Prize I feel privileged to be adding my voice to theirs in saying NO! to death, and YES to building a nonviolent culture -- both here, In USA and around the world.
(Rev. Daniel Berrigan is expected in a visit to Belfast in two weeks time. He will accept the Nobel nomination from Mrs. Maguire on New Year's day -- World Peace Day -- reception in Peace House, the Lisburn Road headquarters of the Peace People. All welcome.)
Nobel Peace Laureate