Sister Simone Campbell, ‘Nun from the Bus,’ calls GOP budget ‘immoral’

Sister Simone Campbell, who led the “Nuns on the Bus” tour for social justice this summer, called the GOP budget … Continued

Sister Simone Campbell, who led the “Nuns on the Bus” tour for social justice this summer, called the GOP budget plan “immoral” in a spirited speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday (Sept. 5).

“Paul Ryan claims this budget reflects the principles of our shared faith,” Campbell said, as she took direct aim at Mitt Romney’s running mate, who has often cited his Catholic faith as the underpinning of his fiscal policies. “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,” she said.

The Romney campaign did not respond to requests for a response on Thursday.

Ryan has argued that his budget plan is informed by Catholic social teaching, and that reducing the federal deficit through budget cuts would help the poor and all Americans by allowing the economy to grow.

The bishops, with some notable exceptions, have countered that Ryan’s budget in fact violates Catholic social teaching by emphasizing cuts in programs for the needy while reducing taxes for the wealthy. Ryan’s plan has also been criticized as likely to expand rather than reduce the national debt.

By framing her critique in the context of her Christian faith, Campbell was using the kind of religious language that has been a hallmark of the GOP’s campaign to rally believers behind Romney and Ryan.

But she also sought to identify the sisters and the Democratic agenda with Catholic tradition at a time when Catholic voters — who comprise close to one-quarter of the electorate — are considered key to the November election.

Just as important, Campbell neatly folded her remarks in with statements from the Catholic hierarchy, which has had more than its share of disagreements with President Obama and the Democratic Party over issues like gay marriage and abortion.

“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,” said Campbell, who heads a Washington-based Catholic social justice lobby called Network. “Their work to alleviate suffering would be seriously harmed by the Romney-Ryan budget.”

In her seven-minute speech Campbell did not address hot-button issues like abortion directly, but she earned the loudest ovation when she defended Obama’s health care reform law as a cause she considers “part of my pro-life stance and the right thing to do.”

Like many other speakers at the convention in Charlotte, N.C., Campbell framed the election as a choice between a philosophy of individualism championed by Republicans and a more communitarian approach to society building emphasized by Democrats.

She also underscored the plight of poor and working class Americans in the recession, and pointed to Democratic policies as both the most effective answer, and the most moral one.

“During our journey, I rediscovered a few truths,” Campbell said. “First, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are correct when they say that each individual should be responsible. But their budget goes astray in not acknowledging that we are responsible not only for ourselves and our immediate families. Rather, our faith strongly affirms that we are all responsible for one another.”

“I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper,” she said to applause.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza listed Campbell as the second biggest “winner” of Wednesday night’s events, after former President Bill Clinton’s tour de force address, noting that she “got a raucously positive reception from the crowd and turned into one of the more unlikely stars of the night.”

Campbell has become well-known both for her advocacy of liberal issues but also as one of the targets of a Vatican crackdown on American nuns who Rome believes are too eager to disagree with church teachings on sexuality and gender while overemphasizing church teachings on social justice.

In June, Campbell did a star turn on “The Colbert Report” to rebut those charges, and the Democrats clearly wanted to take advantage of her appeal.

But the nun also told convention organizers that she would only speak if she could cite her opposition to abortion as well as her other views, according to CNN. She also rejected efforts to include language that sounded too “political” and told party operatives that she would rather give her prime time speaking slot to someone else. Her concerns were heeded.

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  • 1American Voter

    I wonder why Sister Simone made no mention of the president’s transformation that led to his belief that the sacred sacrament of marriage, between a man and a woman, should now apply to any two folks who want to give it a try to call their union, marriage. This and the issue of the federal government imposing laws that are in direct violation of Catholic doctrine, not to mention the presence of God in the Democratic platform being an iffy proposition…I’d have to think that the Sister just may be domonizing the wrong ticket this year.

  • Heatseeker

    ‘sacred sacrament of marriage’ is bestowed by God…however, gays are sacred too….



    The Federal Government is the government for all ….not just Catholics….

    So the Sister is wrong in following the Bishop’s statement that Paul Ryan’s budget is not a

    “catholic’ budget but an immoral budget. These are the words of YOUR BISHOPS.

  • redstateblues

    Anyone lucky enough to attend Catholic school and focused enough to have paid attention understands that Sacramental Marriage happens between a man and a woman, not previously married in a religious ceremony, usually in a Catholic church or other appropriate location and certain vows are part of this. Civil marriages do not diminish the Sacramental marriages of others. People have been getting married weird places and to people that would not be considered eligible for a Catholic marriage for years and it has not diminished anyone else’s Sacramental marriage. There are groups in the US still practicing polygamy–that hasn’t hurt the Sanctity of my monogamous, Catholic marriage. Someone marries a divorced person on the beach–that doesn’t diminish the Sanctity of my marriage. Two homosexual persons getting married in a civil or church ceremony is not going to do that either.

    You might want to review some church history. It may be hard to find but I believe at one time Christianity had a recognition of same sex couples. I remember hearing about that in school but I was not paying attention that day.

    The Bishops are right. Just because you stand up and say you are Pro-life, does not make you that. Pro-life candidates have been taking our money for years and not doing anything that is Pro-life. Pro-life individuals need to look at all life. Poor people are also alive and deserve the love Christ requires. Illegal immigrants are alive. People in prison that have committed unspeakable acts are alive. People that need transplant surgery and do not have insurance are alive.