Fr. Carl Kabat, O.M.I, has been called a fool, a clown, a radical and an anarchist. He wouldn’t argue with any of those descriptions, as long as you include priest, prophet, prisoner and peacemaker.
For more than 40 years Fr. Kabat has been one of this country’s most tireless and prophetic voices against nuclear weapons.
Ordained in 1959, Fr. Carl Kabat did not begin his ministry with activism on his mind. He began his priesthood performing “regular” ministries stateside until he was given an assignment in the Philippines. After three years, he was transferred to Brazil, where he spent another four years.
Upon his return to the U.S., Fr. Carl knew that after his overseas experiences his call to serve God would never be fulfilled unless he found a cause to champion.
That drive to activism led him to the anti-nuclear weapon movement.
“Jesus was killed for political reasons, and non-violence against evil is everywhere in the Gospel,” Fr. Carl said.
Since then, Fr. Carl has been arrested protesting in front of the “future” President Jimmy Carter’s home, the Pentagon and the White House. In 1980, he was named one of the Plowshare Eight, a group who was arrested trying to destroy missile nose cones with a jackhammer near Philadelphia—a crime for which he served 18 months in jail for.
In 1984, he was arrested for a similar attack on a missile silo. For this offense he received an 18-year sentence. He was released after 7.
Fr. Carl’s main ministry is fighting the injustices and hypocrisies of nuclear weapons in the United States, but he also finds that his time in jail has been some of the most freeing, spending time amongst the poor and downtrodden spreading Jesus’s life and love to those who need it the most.
All in all, in the past 40 years, Fr. Carl has spent a cumulative 17 years in prison, and at 86, he says he plans on adding to that rap sheet.