Thursday, February 21, 2013

'Nuns on Bus' leader: Next pope should be pastoral

Time for some fearless words from Sister Simone Campbell.

The organizer of last year’s “Nuns on the Bus” tour and a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Campbell was in Charlotte this week – her fifth stop here in 12 months – to help raise money for the YWCA.

For those who don’t know: Campbell, 67, speaks up for the poor and elderly as the head of Network, a social gospel lobbying group. Her support for President Barack Obama’s health care reforms angered the U.S. Catholic Bishops. And her group was among those singled out last year by the Vatican for its “radically feminist themes.”

In an interview, she told me to expect a sequel to the election-year “Nuns on the Bus” – “Nuns on the Border” will promote immigration reform. I asked her about the biggest story in religion: The upcoming election of a new pope.

 We had a pope (in John Paul II) from a socialist country who, out of his experience, valued living the (Catholic) rules publicly and boldly. And then we had a pope (in Benedict XVI) who is the theologian, academic, cerebral. What I see as missing is a leader who understands pluralism and pluralistic reality. And who is more pastoral, has pastoral experience. So it seems like, in the progression of things, that would be nice. To fill in the gaps of what’s been missing.

Oh, he was pastoral. But he was pastoral out of a socialist experience. We have sisters in Eastern Europe. And when the (Berlin) Wall came down, it was really hard for them to deal with the Western world because they’d grown up fearing hedonistic Hollywood. For them, the goal was to live publicly the rules. That was a sign of their freedom. For them to wear our uniform, for them to be identified strongly as (nuns) was freedom. But they could not understand that, for us in the U.S. and Mexico and Taiwan for that matter, to be free was to live in close relationship with the (poor), not live in the rules.

It’s really hard to predict. I hope they have some really good discussions about the needs of the church…. (When they elected Benedict XVI), it seems like they were just hurrying to get it done. I hope they have some real conversations and maybe some arguments about where we need to go as a church. What’s wrong? How do we atone for all this scandal? How do we clean up the mess in the Vatican money disasters? And how do we be a better church?

It could be good to have someone who is not so connected to the images and culture of monarchy. Because the European model really is the monarchy. And to have someone who came out of a different culture – it could be enlivening.

That he wasn’t as bad as some feared? (Before becoming pope), he’d only had one year of pastoral experience in his whole life – and that was the year after he was ordained. He was a theologian, a guy who’s played the inside of the Vatican forever.

Q. Will a new face at the Vatican maybe curtail Rome’s criticisms of U.S. nuns?

I don’t think there’s too much chance that Dolan will be the next pope. There’s too much power consolidated in the U.S. already.

The Spirit is alive and well. Look at the miracle of this: If Network had never been mentioned by the Vatican, “Nuns on the Bus” would have never happened. The reason it happened was to use our notoriety for mission. I got tired of just answering questions about nuns. What came to me in prayer was: “Ask for help.” It resulted in “Nuns on the Bus.” It was an amazing opportunity to raise up the needs of people on the margins. The Holy Spirit is quite alive, and making mischief.

-- Tim Funk


John said...

Memo to the Nuns, the selection of the Pope is supposed to be the work of the Holy Spirit, not a bunch of rebellious nuns!

Anonymous said...

And Tim tees it up and gets exactly what he was after.....passive/aggressive and gratuitous cheap shots at the Church from the fringe. This woman may be a media favorite but she no more represents Catholic viewpoint than Bill Maher represents the Democratic Party viewpoint. So predictable Tim...

Anonymous said...

The Holy Spirit isn't about "mischief." The Holy Spirit is about revealing the true Spirit of God to humankind, about leading us into all truth, about teaching us how to draw closer to God and to live authentic lives of holiness. He is NOT about creating chaos and mischief. Shame on these crazy nuns. They should be publicly and strongly rebuked from all levels, from the laity to the Holy Father.

Carole Salak said...

"Anonymous" people criticizing .... Are you also men? The Church is comprised of male and female. Let's see what will happen once a pope realizes that. I love that the Holy Spirti is "making mischief"? The Church needs a "shake-up"! Bring on Vatican III! And be sure this time that women are equally represented!

Bibi Bowman said...

John, the last Pope selected by any of the Holy Trinity was probably Saint Peter. Since then it's been done by a senate of cardinals with a huge more recent lobbying push from the American Bishops Boyz Club- and not a vagina among any of them.

To anonymous #1: I know Catholic Democrats, they are my friends, and you are no Catholic Democrat. Women are over half of the people on the planet, the poor are more than that by far; Jesus didn't hate them or marginalize them, and I don't see anywhere in the gospels where doing so we to be part of the plan. The Catholic Church is supposed to be "universal" and "apostolic" so let's let it be so.

To anonymous #2: Who says the Holy Spirit isn't about mischief? Aren't we created in God's image? Are children not naturally mischievous? Aren't we told to become more childlike in order to be enter heaven? Do you not smile at your children when you see them being mischievous? Would God not do the same, or are you (in your own mind) a better father than he is? If you don't believe HE is mischievous, glance at yourself in the mirror wearing only black socks, and then decide.

To Carole: this schism in our church is nothing new, just a poorly kept secret. I would not be surprised if history shows Sister Simone as a modern counterpart to Martin Luther. If we don't get a Pope of and for the people this go-round, someone more like JP2 than Paparazzi, then when the Fisherman's other Prada shoe does drop, I will be in the huge crowd behind the bus.

Patricia said...

Anonymous all.....If you're afraid to own what you say, that should tell you everything. Be proud and happy with who you are.........or change.

Pamelapink said...

Thanksgiving You bici bowman! We are tired of fancy men. So, are some of you who disparage sr.simone and the nuns on the bus saing that the Holy Spirit moved cardinals,bishops and priests to commit homosexual and other sexual acts while saying that gay rights are morally wrong? Because that means that the church, run by these men has a widespread group of them who are morally wrong! But they have time to pick on nuns who fight for social justice, who go to the White House to negotiate changes in the healthcare laws to accommodate the beliefs of our church instead of commanding from a throne be it pope bishop or cardinal!
I will follow the sisters!

Anonymous said...

I leave for a little while and a Gloria Steinhem Girl Power Covention breaks out....too funny !

Rich said...

Prayers for the good Sister. I pray that she moves away from supporting intrinsic evils and seeks supporting life. For her to pretend that she somehow cares more for the poor and the marginalized than the Church or our dearest Pope shows her pride.
No organization, none, educates, supports, feeds, houses, and rescues more poor and marginalized than the Catholic Church.
Peace and love my good Sister!