When I read this morning that Trump has vowed to make Paul Ryan’s economic budget a reality, I did not spit my coffee because I wasn’t surprised, but the horror with which I’ve lived since the election deepened. The GOP is about to impose austerity measures on the United States, and every program that is meant to help human beings will be gutted. The level of income inequality with which we live is about to quadruple. I often wonder what the end game is. Is it a return to the feudal system where we live by the leave and the largesse of the super rich?
One of the things I detest the most about 24 hour news cycle is important stories, stories that thematically still resonate just as strongly today as yesterday, get lost. In early June of 2012, American Catholic Nuns got on a bus, and traveled the United States speaking out against Paul Ryan’s proposed budget cuts for the poor. As per Sister Simone Campbell, in an excellent NPR interview with Michel Martin:
“If Congressman Ryan hadn’t mentioned his faith, I don’t know if we would come up with this idea, but the fact that he was claiming – it’s an outrageous claim in my view that the Catholic faith, that is all about serving the poor, validates his budget, which does nothing but decimate services to the poor, provides further tax cuts for the wealthy and then he claims that this is going to help balance our budget when it actually makes it worse. That combination of misstatements was an outrage to us and we thought, we need to illustrate the problem because people outside the beltway don’t know. We thought the best way to bring an education to our nation about what’s happening here in Washington is if we went on the road and lifted up their work and the consequences they would face if this Republican House budget goes through.”
Roman Catholic Religious sister, lawyer, and lobbyist, Sister Simone Campbell is the executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, founded by Catholic sisters in 1971. The organization was singled out by the Vatican and the previous pope in its scathing critique of The Leadership Conference of Women Religious for keeping “silent on the right to life.” Sister Simone, who made it very clear that she and the rest of Network’s managing staff were not even consulted during the Vatican’s inquiry, stated that Network’s focus, in keeping with the mission of the founding sisters, was poverty, immigration, and health care.
“I think we scare them,” she has said of the church’s male hierarchy. “It’s painfully obvious that the leadership of the church is not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue. Our work every day is in the streets, in the neighborhoods, with families, in a classroom, in a hospital with people who are dying or seriously ill. So our work takes us to the people. Their work takes them to protecting the institution. If you protect the institution, that’s going to give you one set of views. If you work with the people in a pastoral setting and you’re with anguish and struggle and joy and hope every day, then the gospel reads differently to us. And, historically, Catholic sisters have always been a thorn in the bishop’s side because we’ve also been on the edge. We’ve always been with folks who are suffering.”
I have real issues with organized religion. I was raised Christian and went to all girl Christian schools from the 5th grade through my second year of college, so I am intimate with the teachings of Christianity. Sister Simone Campbell and Network are a living embodiment of what I think of as the best of Christianity. Like the church leaders of Moral Mondays in North Carolina, they are applying their faith to politics, to lift up and help humanity, rather than control the masses and bend them to their will.
Someone is no doubt going to write me about the church's stance on abortion. Sister Simone's position on abortion: ....."women choose abortion often, or most often, because they don’t have economic options. And I think the shock of our nation is that we claim to be pro—some claim to be pro-life, but they’re really only pro-birth. They don’t do what’s necessary to support women in carrying a baby to term, in providing paid child—paid family leave, in providing maternity leave or, you know, parental leave, providing reasonable-cost child care. I mean, the litany goes on and on. If we were really serious about being pro-life, we wouldn’t look just at birth. From my perspective, I don’t think it’s a good policy to outlaw abortion. I think, rather, let’s focus on economic development for women and economic opportunity. "
Nuance and intelligence have not left the building.
Live loud, love fierce, and suffer no fools, Katherine Manaan (MAWT)