There was intense energy, song, pride, and joy in the crowd outside The United Methodist Building in the Nation’s Capital Monday as I and many other supporters awaited the homecoming of the Nuns on the Bus. Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and her fellow Nuns arrived in true rock-star fashion, rolling in to the song Eye of the Tiger. The Nuns finished their two-week, nine-state, and 2,700 mile bus tour speaking out against the Federal Budget Proposal created by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) here in DC with an important call to action.
The event kicked off with Campbell and her fellow Nuns sharing inspirational stories they heard from those who would be affected by the proposed budget and highlighted the importance of the work being done by women religious all across the nation on a variety of issues. After describing some of the great souls and exemplary programs she saw, Campbell explained “What sisters do is hug the life into people, not hug the life out of people.” Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, also with NETWORK, eloquently summed up the benefits of programs and necessity of the work of fellow women religious: “Responsible programs enable [their] recipients to discover the light within them, to potentiate it, and then to accept their responsibility to share it. These programs must not, cannot be de-funded.”
“It’s a morally bankrupt budget!” Campbell proclaimed as the crowd cheered. “It’s radical ideology in the guise of fiscal responsibility”. Rep. Ryan, also a Catholic, claims that the budget is in line with Catholic principles, but Campbell disagrees arguing that the budget “rejects catholic church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good”. The Nuns propose instead a Faithful Budget with the tagline “reasonable revenue for responsible programs”.
The Nuns were gracious for the support and recognition they have received but reminded supporters that the “Catholic Sisters’ commitment to justice, charity, human dignity should be an inspiration and a model for all of us not just nuns.” Dr. Sayyid Sayeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America, echoed this universal call to action by saying that the “Nuns on the Bus speak for not just Catholics, not just Christians only, not for Jews, they speak for all of us”. He acknowledged that they have raised the bar for everyone by “strengthen[ing] and defin[ing] for us a new vision of equality, brotherhood, human dignity, of a new interconnected world, a global village”.
Sister Simone Campbell was a guest on State of Belief before she hit the road with Nuns on the Bus and addressed the Vatican’s condemnation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Read the transcript and listen to that interview here.