Here’s a great news report from Al Jazeera highlighting the Nuns on the Bus tour’s visit to Rep. Ryan’s office in Janesville, Wisconsin and their enthusiastic welcome.
U.S. Catholic has an interview with Stephen Schneck, Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America about Catholicism in politics, economic justice, and helping the poor:
Why is poverty an issue Catholics should be concerned about?
I’ve been blessed with a real perspective on the level of need in America, with the poverty that’s out there. I actually know people who are poor. I know how they’re struggling and how they’re looking for work. I know how they’re embarrassed to go on public assistance or embarrassed to be at a grocery store paying for their kids’ Rice Krispies with food stamps.
I challenge people to think about their neighbors, their friends, and the people down the block who are truly down and out, who require some help to put food on the table for their kids. I challenge any Catholic to honestly be able to say we should cut food stamps and use that money to reduce taxation when looking for a solution to a real person’s problems.
When you see people who are struggling in the context of their daily lives, trying to make ends meet, trying to find a way to get out of that situation, then I think you realize that these safety nets are fundamentally important.
Read the whole thing here
Not Backing Down
Someone recently described Catholic sisters as having “a spine of steel and a compassionate heart.” I can think of no better description for women who selflessly dedicate their lives to the most vulnerable while confronting injustice.
Embroiled in a tense dispute with the Vatican and U.S. bishops over promoting “radical feminist themes,” the sisters are not backing down. On the contrary, they are launching a nationwide bus tour to assert their Gospel-driven mission by standing up for the poor and speaking out against Rep. Paul Ryan’s reckless budget proposal. Traveling to social service agencies, soup kitchens, and health clinics run by Catholic sisters, the bus tour will highlight nuns’ contributions to the common good and call for a more faithful budget proposal.
The Bishops Agree
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agrees with the sisters’ message of economic justice. They have repeatedly warned Congress not to slash food stamps, social services block grants, the child tax credit and other vital programs targeted in the House Republican budget. In their guidance to lawmakers, bishops have stated: “The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.” Rep. Ryan has dismissed these concerns and continues to insist that a disproportionate share of cuts must come from programs that serve lower-income Americans even as the wealthy are coddled with more tax breaks.
Will the Bishops Get on Board?
Part of the Catholic sisters’ strategy, then, is to encourage the bishops to use their megaphone and the bus tour opportunity to speak out more boldly against the Ryan budget. They plan to invite bishops whose dioceses they pass through to join them at events. But given that the bishops are dedicating enormous resources during that same time towards their “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign to protest the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, that plea may fall on deaf ears. In fact, the bishops’ overheated rhetoric has caused many to ask whether that campaign is just a thinly veiled partisan effort in an election year. It’s even causing some backlash among Catholics in the pews.
As the political courtship of Catholic voters heats up in this contentious election year, Catholic sisters are remaining true to their mission and elevating our values debate. I’m grateful for their courage and persistence.
Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby previewed the organization’s upcoming “Nuns on the Bus” tour on The Colbert Report last night:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Radical Feminist Nuns – Simone Campbell|
This week, Laurie Goodstein at The New York Times reported on a new campaign from women religious this summer: a cross-country bus tour highlighting the valuable work of sisters in local communities and defending vulnerable populations from the devastating budget cuts of the House GOP budget.
“We’re doing this because these are life issues,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a liberal social justice lobby in Washington. “And by lifting up the work of Catholic sisters, we will demonstrate the very programs and services that will be decimated by the House budget.”
Goodstein also notes that the bus tour is occurring at the same time as the Catholic Bishops “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign in opposition to the HHS contraception regulations and comes on the heels of the Vatican’s harsh critique of American women religious.