The Nation: The Berrigans: Conspiracy and Conscience

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studiously nonviolent resistance heretofore evoked by the Berrigans, and there is a certain logic in the challenge. From angry essays to public protests to illegal acts of resistance, the Berrigans have moved ever closer to revolutionary thought and practice. Disciplined as they have been in both their faith and their personal lives, the Berrigans may well have believed that they were able to maintain a limit beyond which they would not go. But they do not live in a vacuum, and the world is currently teeming with examples of revolutionary priests.

Roman Catholic Bishop Albert Ndongmo of Cameroun has won a commutation of the death sentence pronounced two weeks ago after he was found guilty of complicity in rebellion and plotting to assassinate the head of state. In Argentina, the Priests' Third World Movement—already implicated in the kidnap death of Former President Aramburu—claims 400 members. In Colombia, priests and nuns are allied with Marxists in the Golconda resistance movement. Their paradigm is Camilo Torres, the Colombian priest who was killed fighting with guerrillas in 1966. In the U.S., the activities of the Jewish Defense League, led by a rabbi, add a special interreligious note of militancy (see following story).

A theology of violent revolution has become a respectable subject even in such exalted quarters as the World and National Councils of Churches. There has, of course, always been some kind of theological consideration of violence in Christian thought. The communities of early Christians were largely pacifist, but St. Augustine, faced with the reality of an officially Christian Roman Empire, found it necessary to formulate the theology of the "just war." Even then, however, violence remained the prerogative of the state, although St. Thomas Aquinas argued in the 13th century that revolutions against tyrants could also be justified. Juan de Mariana, a Spanish Jesuit theologian, even justified the assassination of tyrants. Yet for centuries, while secular and anticlerical revolutions swept Europe, the established churches almost always acted as a conservative force. Only in recent years have Christian theologians begun to reconsider the moral implications of revolution—not merely as a choice but indeed as an imperative.

Can such a theology be Christian? Jesus bluntly warned that those who live by the sword will perish by it. His most unsettling words on the subject ("I have not come to bring peace but the sword") have traditionally been interpreted as merely a metaphor of the divisions that Jesus' teachings would inevitably create. But now some theologians, biblical scholars and a vocal squad of popularizers are beginning to say that a sword-bringing Christ is entirely logical; they argue that Jesus was in fact a revolutionary, involved in active resistance against the Establishment of his day. Though the theories are not widely accepted, young activists find the idea exciting. Father David Kirk of Manhattan's Emmaus Community fashioned a selection of radical passages from the Bible and Church Fathers into a fast-selling little red book, mischievously titled Quotations from Chairman Jesus. Its foreword is by Daniel Berrigan.

Many theologians of revolution take their cue from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pacifist German pastor who finally joined the plot to assassinate Hitler and was executed by

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