Daniel Berrigan and Pope Francis

Daniel Cosacchi:

Among the many noteworthy additions to the Catholic magisterium within Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, was the introduction of the term “integral ecology.” In many ways, the term is meant to bring together the church’s longstanding teachings of “human ecology” and “environmental ecology.”

In another way, however, what Pope Francis is trying to get across is the importance of integrity, or of being a whole community. In the case of integral ecology, Francis wants to make it clear that in this world, “everything is connected.” In the case of living one’s life on this earth, too, everything is part of a larger whole.

Perhaps no person lived out that truth more clearly than Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., who died in New York on April 30, 2016.

Any number of beautiful reflections, obituaries, and biographies have already been written about Berrigan. Himself an author of a 1987 autobiography, To Dwell in Peace, Berrigan was one of the most prolific writers – of both poetry and prose – of his time.

Even though most of his writing is classified within the “activist” genre, it is clear that there is very rich theological fare in Berrigan’s writings as well. More than that, Berrigan’s theological focus is unrelenting: it is all about Jesus. The life of Jesus, as portrayed in the gospels, is so much a part of Berrigan’s writing that it would be impossible to mention Berrigan without mentioning Jesus.

The theological consequence of that reality is the integrity of Berrigan’s theology. As Saint Paul said of Jesus, “In him all things hold together” (Col 1:17); likewise with Berrigan’s theology, all things hold together in Jesus.

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