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The Catonsville NineAn American Story$
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Shawn Francis Peters

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199827855

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827855.001.0001

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“I Couldn’t Not Do It”

“I Couldn’t Not Do It”

(p.83) 7 “I Couldn’t Not Do It”
The Catonsville Nine

Shawn Francis Peters

Oxford University Press

Unlike his brother Phil, whose circuitous journey to the priesthood included detours with the military and at Holy Cross, Dan Berrigan knew from a relatively early age that he wanted to become a priest. He stepped up his antiwar activism in 1965 as the conflict in Vietnam worsened. He felt that with civilian and military casualties increasing with each passing day, people of faith had to start voicing their objections to the war or they might never have another chance. His opposition to the war growing, Berrigan emerged as one of the leaders of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV), which one observer described as “the most powerful peace group in the United States.” The group attracted an all-star roster of American religious leaders: joining Berrigan in the new group were the likes of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Martin Luther King Jr. CALCAV made an immediate splash by calling together several hundred New York-area clergymen for a conference on the war at a Methodist church in the city.

Keywords:   Dan Berrigan, priests, activists, CALCAV, Vietnam War

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