‘Nuns on the Bus’ Leader Captures True Catholic Spirit

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‘Nuns on the Bus’ Leader Captures True Catholic Spirit

Sister Simone Campbell, the face of the “Nuns on the Bus,” spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5.

Sister Simone Campbell, the face of the “Nuns on the Bus,” spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5.

MCT

Sister Simone Campbell, the face of the “Nuns on the Bus,” spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5.

MCT

MCT

Sister Simone Campbell, the face of the “Nuns on the Bus,” spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5.


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Sister Simone Campbell, face of the “Nuns on the Bus,” spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5.

Sister Simone Campbell, face of the “Nuns on the Bus,” spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5.

By CANTON WINER

ASSISTANT OPINION EDITOR

Most politically-attentive Catholics are undoubtedly aware that Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivered the closing benediction at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

Most Catholics, however, have probably not heard of Sister Simone Campbell, the face of the “Nuns on the Bus” tour for social justice this summer and the deliverer of a spirited speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Sept. 5. While Cardinal Dolan’s benedictions certainly leave a fair amount to be discussed, it was actually Sister Campbell who delivered the more interesting speech, a great deal of which focused on Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

“Paul Ryan claims [his] budget reflects the principles of our shared faith,” Campbell said, as she criticized Ryan’s so-called “The Path to Prosperity” budget, which Ryan has claimed is inspired by his Catholic faith. “But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Ryan budget failed a basic moral test because it would harm families living in poverty.”

While the existence of another prominent American Catholic talking about social issues and morality may seem like nothing new, Sister Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus are actually doing something quite revolutionary. Instead of focusing on abortion or marriage equality, Campbell and her fellow sisters are focusing on poverty.

Shockingly, NETWORK, the national Catholic social justice lobby of which Sister Campbell is the executive director, has faced criticism from within the Vatican for promoting “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

“I’ve no idea what they’re talking about,” Sister Simone Campbell said about the criticism in an interview with the BBC. “Our role is to live the gospel with those who live on the margins of our society: the hungry, the poor, the ill. That’s all we do.”

Campbell deserves to be applauded for bringing the focus of American Catholicism back to helping the needy and away from the bizarre obsession over abortion and marriage equality. The New Testament mentions poverty and the idea of helping the poor literally hundreds of times. Nowhere, however, does it mention abortion, and Jesus never once had anything to say about homosexuality.

“I am extremely proud of the Sisters [of Nuns on the Bus] and of NETWORK, because they are not hiding behind the typical political issues such as abortion. They are going back to Jesus’s actual teachings,” Elizabeth Zanghi, FCRH ’15, said. “As a Catholic, I believe poverty should be the most important issue [this election cycle], because it affects the most vulnerable people in America.”

A growing number of American Catholics share Zanghi’s view. According to the Catholic Star Herald, Barack Obama received 54 percent of the Catholic vote in 2008. He received 52 percent of the general vote, meaning that Catholics leaned more Democratic in 2008 than the general public. If Catholics shared the Church leadership’s consumption with opposing marriage equality and banning abortion rights, then surely they would not vote for a candidate who does not also hold those beliefs.

Sister Campbell is capitalizing on that sentiment. Her emphasis on caring for the poor instead of dwelling on legislating morality is one that will connect with most Catholics, and with most Americans.

“We care for the 100 percent, and that will secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our nation. All of us drive for faith, family and fairness,” Sister Campbell concluded to a roar of applause.

If Paul Ryan is trying to win votes for the GOP based on his Catholic faith, then he should drop the prattle on sideshow social issues and tax cuts for the super-rich. Instead, he should embrace Sister Campbell’s concern for the poor. American Catholics are moving forward. Will Ryan join them?

Canton Winer, FCRH ’15, is an undeclared major from West Palm Beach, Fla.