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,
was in Charlotte
this week – her fifth stop here in 12 months – to help raise money for the
For those who don’t know:
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
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
Q. Will a new face at the Vatican maybe curtail
Rome’s criticisms of U.S. nuns?
Let us pray to the Lord. I hope so. The fact is, we’ve been used – in my opinion – because we have spoken up for the needs of people at the margins of society. Our organization got named in the 2012 censure because we won on health care. The bishops had bad political advice, they continue to get bad political advice and they keep blaming us.
Q. It doesn’t sound like you think Cardinal Timothy Dolan of
New York (an
Obamacare opponent) should be the next pope.
I don’t think there’s too much chance that Dolan will be the next pope. There’s too much power consolidated in the
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