The National Catholic Review

Earlier today, the Democrats amended their platform to include the word “God” after some contrived controversy on the right about the previously adopted “secular platform.” The platform actually devotes an entire section to the importance of faith and religion in US society:

Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history. We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires.

Tonight, Sr. Simone Campbell offered her story of living out her faith to the DNC, highlighting her “Nuns on the Bus” tour earlier this summer, where a group of Catholic sisters traveled through nine states and the nation’s capital criticizing the Paul Ryan budget that, they said, would gut the social service safety-net, harm the poor, and give huge tax breaks to the wealthy. (Watch it here.)

Campbell, a Sister of Social Services and the head of NETWORK, an advocacy and lobbying group, tried to neutralize the hyper-individualism of the RNC, stating clearly and boldly, “I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper.” Standing in front of a crowd that has celebrated it’s pro-choice policies, Campbell declared that it was her pro-life position that compelled her to support the Affordable Care Act, or Obama-care, to “care for the 100%.”

Syndicated columnist Mark Shields said on PBS that “in any popularity contest in the Catholic Church, the nuns will beat the bishops 5 to 1 any day of the week.” He’s probably right. But not because the nuns are better people, or more Christian, than bishops. It’s just that the sisters are out there, using their hands to feed the hungry, care for the sick, and speak up for the poor. These are the issues that resonate with Catholics, and, judging by the amount of applause tonight, with Democrats.

My gut reaction is one of satisfaction; the fiery nun’s appearance offers a lifeline to Catholics like me who feel that we live in the edge of the church. My heart swelled watching Democrats leap to their feet to cheer on a Catholic nun espousing the basics of Catholic social teaching.

But last week, I wondered if Cardinal Dolan’s appearance at the RNC, and now the DNC, would help or hurt the church’s ability to be a prophetic voice in society (watch my interview on Fox News here). Campbell offered a strong and inspiring voice for the poor and marginalized voiceless tonight. But like Dolan, Campbell’s appearance was in a hyper-partisan convention hall that may further divide the church.

The church, and its leaders, must be prophetic. To do so, it may have to become less political.

Comments

Carlos Orozco | 9/6/2012 - 8:26pm
Obaaa-aaa-aaaa-aa-ma... Obaaaaa-aaaa-ma...
ed gleason | 9/6/2012 - 7:35pm
I nominate Tom Maher's
 " You sound like Hillary Clinton denying her husband's White House affairs with Monica Lewinsky'
as this weeks worst dog whistle and so off topic ..but he must be admired for not giving up.   
JIM MCCREA | 9/6/2012 - 7:40pm
" - brothers and sisters who choose to follow what the leaders of that Church teach -"

In the words of St. Ronald Reagan The Great:  "trust but verify."

The Persians put it this way:  "Trust in God, but tie your camel" - this is particularly true when listening to a small, self-perpetuating, autocratic, male clericalist group of Our Religious Betters who claim to know The Truth.
Mike Brooks | 9/6/2012 - 11:52am
It always strikes me as odd when people, especially Catholics, suggest that the best way to help the poor is to have the government forcibly take money from people and have a series of government bureaucracies distribute it as they see fit.  Jesus never made demands of Rome when speaking about the poor; He spoke about the voluntary acts of people.

When government takes from some to give to others, it takes away the incentive of many to perform the selfless, voluntary acts of charity that Jesus spoke of.  "The government has it covered; I've fulfilled my obligation."  On the receiving side, it hides the fact that "government" assistance comes from people; indeed, many people in this country do not recognize the fact that the government has no money of its own.  If some institution of unlimited funds is sending you checks, you tend to take and take; if you are receiving help from the sacrifice of a person, you are more likely to make an effort to become independent.

Republicans do not seek to deprive the poor of assistance; they just believe that huge government bureaucracy is not the best way to do it.  Ideally, we help ourselves; when we are unable to help ourselves, we reach out to family (this is why conservatives are so against single motherhood and destruction of the traditional family through gay "marriage"); when our family is unable to help, we seek out friends and community organizations, and so on.  Taking money, throwing it into the corruption, bureaucracy, and inefficiency of the gigantic federal government should never be the first source of help.
Tim O'Leary | 9/6/2012 - 12:49pm
I listened to Sr. Campbell.  I read that she had some disagreements with the political editors of her speech and threatened not to speak if they insisted on some changes. But, they were still able to use her for their purposes. She of course never mentioned abortion (not partial birth, not sex-selection, not born-alive cases – talk about “Speaking Truth to Power”). How about a new headline - “nuns on the bus throw the unborn under the bus”?

She only used the word “pro-life” once, but just to say that her pro-life views meant she must support Obamacare. Cardinal Dolan was much more courageous in his words at the RNC (bringing up new immigrants as well as the unborn in his prayer) and I hope he just uses the same prayer at the DNC. They will probably boo him as they did the belated addition of a reference to God into the platform (see video here: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/316010/true-convention-moment-jonah-goldberg). I guess this year’s DNC platform was the first ever without God in it (a literal “god-less” document?)
She probably doesn’t know much better (invincible ignorance and all that), but her attacks on Paul Ryan were un-Christian. I guess she believes the NYT and hasn’t read the actual “Path to Prosperity” document (like most bloggers above, the America editors and even some of the folks at the USCCB office). So many critics make statements on Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” Budget Proposal that are completely unsubstantiated by the document itself. They usually rely on the opponents of Paul Ryan (like the NYT) and never quote the actual document in context, but insert their own assumptions into the critique and use deceptive terminology. Thanks to JR Cosgrove for pointing this out so forcefully in the several blogs on Ryan's budget.
For those still with an open mind, here is the actual 99-page document (http://paulryan.house.gov/uploadedfiles/pathtoprosperity2013.pdf). The Safety Net is discussed on page 37, with the solutions on page 42. For Health and Retirement Security, go to 47, with the solutions on page 52. In no case, is there a cut to current benefits. Medicaid, Medicare and Food Stamps (SNAP) all grow. Here are two examples:

Medicaid began in 1966 with a budget of $400M. It grow 1000-fold to $400B today. It is projected by CBO to grow to $800B in 10 years. Ryan converts the federal component to block grants to the states, indexed for inflation and population, and caps the grants to the $800B (for 2023). This is a cut???
For Medicare, there is no change for those near retirement. Those under 55 will get options to increase choice, similar to the current program available to members of Congress. These will have competitive bidding options, and lower-income folks will get extra benefits. The proposal includes curbs on frivolous lawsuits, and other mechanisms to keep the costs down. Again, no cuts at all.

Similar reforms are made for Food Stamps (block grants) and Education grants (Pell, etc). So, all the cuts are projections inserted into the discussion by people who should know better. A Preferential Option for the Poor is not a Preferential Option for the State.
Rick Fueyo | 9/6/2012 - 9:47am
Plainly, Catholic priorities to not fit neatly within any American political party. But the Ryan budget cannot be honestly defended. It indeed eviscerates care for the middle class and poor, and explodes the deficit. Its defenders have tried to dishonestly state otherwise, claiming it is revenue neutral. But this is mere sophistry. In no sense can it be legitimately defended as revenue neutral. As former President Clinton stated last night, it's a function of arithmetic.
Tom Maher | 9/6/2012 - 12:04pm
"Contrived controversy on the right aboute the previously adapted 'secuar platofrm'" Mr. O'Loughlin?  You sound like Hillary Clinton denying her husband's White House affairs with Monica Lewinsky where Hillary procalimed the news of the affair was "A vast right- wing conspriacy".  But no Mr. O'Loughlin these things really did happen right in the midle of the Democratic Convention. 

The Democratic Party Party platofrm was adopeted on Tuesday immeadiately came under widespread criticism by everyone including most Democrates and had to be promptly amended on Wednesday.  All theis was widely caught by all news outlets convering the convention.  On camera the voice vote to amendment the party Platform to include the tranditional mention of God and support for Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel shpwed significant opposition to the amendment.  Very awkwardly the chir had was not able to determine if the amendment really had the needed two-third approval to pass and had to re-take the vote three times.

Realistically it is no surprise to find that any Democratic party convention has a majority of very secular delegates with an exclusively utilitarian goals from an exclusively secular government.  These delagates have no need or interest in acknowldging America's blessings or calliing for blessings or devine guidance or mercy for America. This is not your grandparent's traditional Democratic party anymore.   Public outcry is the only way for the Democrates to recognize what the voters expect.
Adrianne Hamilton | 9/6/2012 - 9:46am
Why is it that so many will fight for the unborn but not the ''born''? Why is it that once the child is born, he or she is ''on his own''? Arent there fewer abortions in a society where individuals have a decent education, a decent job, basic health care and optimism about their future?  
kevin hickson | 9/6/2012 - 10:35am
The Sisters do wonderful work in our Catholic Church and for our Society. However some sisters and most of us are not willing stand up for our faith. I wish she had had the courage to be like Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta in her address at the National Prayer Breakfast years ago when she said,"Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."
Vince Killoran | 9/6/2012 - 9:02am
"But like Dolan, Campbell’s appearance was in a hyper-partisan convention hall that may further divide the church."

Michael's right: we need them to be "political" but not "Political."  And we need to be consistent: if we (correctly) reject the USCCB's hard knuckle insider then this should apply to all Catholic clerics and religious. What made the "Nuns on the Bus" tour so compelling was its grassroots, local character.
J Cosgrove | 9/6/2012 - 10:34am
''It indeed eviscerates care for the middle class and poor, and explodes the deficit. Its defenders have tried to dishonestly state otherwise, claiming it is revenue neutral.''


I suggest that anyone who wants to make such statements and call others dishonest do the arithmetic.  It is available but lacking from anyone who attacks the Ryan budget.  Notice the continual lack of actual numbers in all these discussions by those who oppose the Ryan budget. And when do the middle class need financial care from the government?  Where is the source of all this money for the care of these people.  And how does the Ryan budget both reduce and explode at the same time.  I suggest some numbers.  They are in print.


'' As former President Clinton stated last night, it's a function of arithmetic.''
 

The Ryan budget provides a much higher level of support for welfare than did the last Clinton budget when he said he couldn't see any need for any additional spending.  Ryan also claims it will be revenue neutral and he explains how. So the debate should be over if this is possible and not to distort what it may or may not do.


I suggest the authors and editors of America examine the historical expenditures for welfare and then present the Ryan budget within that historical perspective instead of the constant negative aspersions against what Ryan is trying to accomplish.  For example, if more people have jobs there is then less need for welfare expenditures which under Ryan's budget are much higher than traditional levels.  So if there is an economic approach that finds way to employ more people then that alone will reduce the need for a lot of the large increases in welfare expenditures that have taken place in the last couple years.  We have only go back just a few short years to see such a situation.


And one should try to deal with where and how did the underclass come from.  There is very good evidence that government programs have enormously expanded the underclass as opposed to alleviating the problems that cause them.   In other words there is very good evidence that government created a large percentage of the poor, through their attempts to help them.  It is a blatant example of good attentions gone awry.  Maybe that is where the guilt expressed by many should be directed.  That maybe what Sr. Simone is proposing is not helpful to the poor but counter productive.
Kevin Murphy | 9/6/2012 - 12:51am
Once again (and it is amazing how many times this must be pointed out), progressive Catholics (such as Sr. Campbell) show their selective outrage.    Sister is outraged by the Ryan budget, and perhaps she is correct.  I'm not an expert, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, and respect her need to protest.   However, she is not outraged by the Democrats' radical abortion policies, i.e. abortions at any stage, with no limitiations.  (Also, the Democrats now want the state to foot the bill.)  Courage would have been Sister Campbell standing up for the whole seamless garment, for the born and the unborn.   Alas, she knew her audience, and likes to be liked.  You can't be pro-life on some things and not on the other.  As far as I am concerned, people who hold this viewpoint are both  disengenuous and hypocritical.   Hold everybody - Democrats, Republicans and yes, the LCWR and Nuns on the Bus - to the same standard.
Joe Patrick | 9/6/2012 - 10:08am
First, I must challenge Mr. O'Loughlin regarding his comment that the nuns on a bus are out there doing hands-on work while the bishops are not.  Does Mr. O have any idea just how hard a bishop works?  Does he know that were it not for the bishops, most of the poor and hungry and homeless would have no resources, no food, and no shelter?  Does he know that, just because, in the current Democratic Party, a rogue nun may be more popular than a bishop, that does not mean that the bishop does not represent the position of the majority of those who call themselves Catholics?  Does he know that the majority of bishops have personal contact - most of them daily - with the poor and with those otherwise in need?  Does he not know that the work of bishops is  to ensure the eternal salvation of those in need, as well as their temporal comfort?

As far as the nun throwing a lifeline to those on the edge of the Church, we all know what Mr. O means.  He claims to be a Catholic while choosing to disregard at least a large portion of the teachings of that Church.  Sir, that means that you are NOT a Catholic but that you like the feeling of thinking you are.  You may have been Baptized into the Church, but somewhere along the line, something happened to you to make you think that you are superior to the guardians of the Faith.  So, rather than accept that you have freely gone down a path that is irreconcilable with being a Catholic, you grasp onto any voice in the wilderness that gives you the illusion of still being within the fold of the Catholic Church.  You say to yourself and others that you are the true believer, that the Sacraments are for you just as much as they are for those who follow the voice of the Pope and the teachings of the Bishops, that no one can tell you you are not a Catholic.  Well, sir, I am telling you that you will always have the imprint of your Baptismal vows on your immortal soul, but you may not a ''Catholic.''
 
Sister S has taken a very public stance on a very controversial issue that puts the salvation of herself and of many of her followers in danger.  It is not the politics of the subject that matters as much as the rejection of the teachings of the Church.  Since I did not see her speech at the DNC, I will take your word that she indicated that she is not ''Pro-Life.''  That is very troubling.  She is doing more harm to others by holding and professing that stance than all of the good she has ever done and ever will do for the poor and the downtrodden.  All of the rhetoric in the world, all of the sweat equity anyone may ever do is totally undone when one turns one's back on what one swore to uphold.  My prayer is that Sister S and Mr. O will reflect on their chosen paths and will use their remaining time on earth to undo what they they have done to inflict harm on the Church and on their brothers and sisters who choose to follow what the leaders of that Church teach.   
Vincent Gaitley | 9/6/2012 - 11:02am
I believe in the separation of church from state.  Nuns, bishops, ministers, rabbis, and imams have no business telling the political conventions that faith demands a certain policy or vote.  They may surely have their opinions, but please don't conflate faith into fiscal policy.  How welcome at a religious synod would an office holding politician be who demands a certain dogma under his administration?  And any Catholic who can stand among the radical abortionist platform of the Democratic platform and claim that the budget-the Ryan budget proposal-is immoral is out of her/his mind.  Keep the habits and the Roman collars at a safe distance, please.  
T BLACKBURN | 9/6/2012 - 7:44am
Sister Simone offered a lifeline to Catholics like me who feel they are living on the edge of the Democratic Party. But there are reasons I haven't listen to any of the other speeches so far and won't bother with today's either.
JIM MCCREA | 9/6/2012 - 7:46pm
Ed G. said:  " - but he must be admired for not giving up."

Ralph Waldo Emerson had this to say about that:  "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."
Amy Ho-Ohn | 9/6/2012 - 6:54am
Michael, there wasn't much of your interview in that clip, but from what there was, it looks like you did a terrific job. I hope they will call you in the future when they want a scary bad-guy Catholic dissenter icon; you're much more sympathetic and articulate than Andrew Sullivan and a hundred times more handsome. (Having your face time-sandwiched between Dolan and Donahue sure doesn't hurt either.)

I think it is perfectly obvious what Sister S means when she indicates she's pro-life, but not "pro-life." This election is the culture warriors' chance to enact the old thought experiment about a fire in a fertility clinic with a nursery. Demanding Medicaid cuts while insisting on being allowed to exclude birth control from your employees' health plans is analogous to frantically grabbing Petri dishes right and left while leaving the babies behind to be incinerated. The "pro-life" movement has jumped the shark.
KEN LOVASIK | 9/6/2012 - 10:46am
"But like Dolan, Campbell’s appearance was in a hyper-partisan convention hall that may further divide the church."

Michael, you don't believe that your appearance on FoxNews was in a "hyper-partisan" political environment?  Really?
J Cosgrove | 9/6/2012 - 2:12am
I assume the Mr. O'Loughlin has informed Sr. Simone that she has misrepresented the Ryan budget.  And that his gut reaction was that becasue the budget does not gut the social service safety net, harm the poor or give tax breaks to the rich, Sr Simone should apologize to Paul Ryan and Catholics everywhere for this misrepresentaton.
JAMES OLEARY MR | 9/6/2012 - 12:21am
There was also the interview Shields and Brooks and Gwen Ifill had with the mayor of San Antonio, Julio Castro, who said he was still a Catholic even with the bishops' critiquing Obama. Sister Simone did lots of good with her little speech at the podium.