Nun on the Bus agnostic about abortion

politics | Sep 06, 2012 | By Martin Barillas


Simone Campbell, on the same day that she told a reporter that she doesn't know whether abortion should be illegal, took to the podium on September 5 to address the Democratic National Convention to denounce the Republican presidential ticket and the budget proposed by Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan in the House of Representative. Sister Cambell is a Catholic nun and is the executive director of the social justice lobby Network. Ryan is a Catholic and a member of the House of Representatives from the state of Wisconsin.

Appearing in chic white suit, Sister Campbell said “Paul Ryan claims his budget reflects the principles of our shared 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.”

“We agree with our bishops, and that's why we went on the road: to stand with struggling families and to lift up our Catholic sisters who serve them,” she added. “Their work to alleviate suffering would be seriously harmed by the Romney-Ryan budget, and that is wrong.”

Sister Campbell said in a talk in June of this year that she is uncomfortable calling herself pro-life, and has openly supported President Obama and his healthcare reform as part of her “pro-life stance.”

“We all share responsibility to ensure that this vital health care reform law is properly implemented and that all governors expand Medicaid coverage,” she said. “This is part of my pro-life stance and the right thing to do.”

Sister Campbell attracted attention this year when she organized a “Nuns on the Bus” tour to protest Representative Ryan's budget plan. She and the Network lobby have openly supported health-care reform. In June, a Charlotte NC newspaper reported that in an appearance there Sister Campbell had "scorned the US bishops for their continued opposition to the health insurance law."

In April, a Vatican report on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious cited the group's ties with Network as a source of concern, while noting the failure of the group to take a public stand in defense of human life.

Sister Campbell’s statement about the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ criticism of the Ryan budget is apparently in reference to a May 2012 letter by Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton CA, who chairs the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

“The Catholic bishops of the United States recognize the serious deficits our country faces, and we acknowledge that Congress must make difficult decisions about how to allocate burdens and sacrifices and balance resources and needs,” Bishop Blaire said in his letter to all members of the House of Representatives. “However, deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility efforts must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people. The proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test."


However, during this year's meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ June, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing voiced criticism of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development for its opposition to the Ryan budget plan. “There have been some concerns raised by lay Catholics, especially some Catholic economists, about what was perceived as a partisan action against Congressman Ryan and the budget he had proposed,” Bishop Boyea said. “We need to be articulate only in principles, and let the laity make these applications … It was perceived as partisan, and thus didn’t really further dialogue in our deeply divided country.” Furthermore, he said “I’m not sure that we have the humility yet not to stray into areas where we lack competence, and where we need to let the laity take the lead,” he added. “We need to learn far more than we need to teach in this area. We need to listen more than we need to speak. We already have an excellent, fine Compendium [on the Social Doctrine of the Church].”
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City said at the June meeting that Bishop Blair's committee is “at times perceived as partisan” and needs to consider the principle of subsidiarity, which has been “neglected in past documents.” 



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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