Fresh off a speaking gig at the Democratic National Convention, dissident nun Sr. Simone Campbell is slated to lead a workshop for Catholic voters on Sept. 16 at Holy Names University in Oakland.
The workshop, co-sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and Justice Organizers, Leaders, Treasurers (JOLT), has been promoted for some time on the homepage of the Diocese of San Jose: “Election Workshop Presented by Sister Simone Campbell SSS of NETWORK,” with a link to a flyer promoting the event — but with no reference of any kind to sister’s questionable credentials.
Sr. Campbell is executive director of the “social justice” group of women religious known as NETWORK, perhaps most famous for urging passage of Obamacare in 2010 in open defiance of U.S. Catholic bishops. NETWORK’s defiance — along with the Catholic Health Association — prompted this response from Madison, Wis., Bishop Robert C. Morlino: “The Lord Jesus Christ, unworthy though the bishops are, called the bishops to lead the people in faith; He did not call anybody in the Catholic Health Association and he did not call any of the Sisters in Network.”
This year, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its April 18 “Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious,” it specifically mentioned the LCWR’s ties to NETWORK as one of the issues of concern.
Sr. Campbell dismissed those concerns. “Speaking at a Jesuit parish in Charlotte, the executive director of the social justice lobby Network disparaged Vatican officials and US bishops as ‘inexperienced’ in pastoral work and revealed that she is uncomfortable describing herself as pro-life ‘because of my pride,’” reported Catholic World News on June 13. “After speaking on the importance of civility in political discourse, Sister Simone Campbell dismissed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s efforts to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) as a ‘Vatican kerfuffle’ and, in the words of the Charlotte diocesan newspaper, ‘scorned the US bishops for their continued opposition to the health insurance law.’”
Even the New York Times calls NETWORK “a liberal Catholic lobbying group.” The Catholic Thing blog recently observed that Sr. Campbell’s “views of Catholic social teaching line up neatly with the Democratic Party platform” and that she serves as an “‘alternative hierarchy’ for those seeking Catholic endorsement of a progressive agenda.”
In June, Sr. Campbell led 14 like-minded sisters on the notorious “nuns on the bus” tour of nine states to protest U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget. “The tour was organized by Network, a Washington-based Catholic social justice group criticized in a recent Vatican report that said some organizations led by nuns have focused too much on economic injustice while failing to promote the church’s teachings on abortion and same-sex marriage,” The Associated Press reported. “The Vatican asked U.S. bishops to look at Network’s ties to another group of nuns it is reorganizing because of what the church calls ‘serious doctrinal problems.’”
“Sister Simone Campbell, Network’s executive director, said while the tour may appear to have been organized to counter recent criticism of social activist nuns by the Vatican and American bishops, it was not,” The Associated Press report continued. “The timing was in response to consideration of the federal budget in Congress, she said.”
As for Sr. Campbell’s speaking engagement at the Democratic National Convention last night, NETWORK issued a news release saying it was “pleased to confirm that Sister Simone Campbell has accepted an invitation to speak at the Democratic National Convention on the evening of Wednesday, September 5. This will provide an important opportunity to talk about what she has learned after decades of work for social and economic justice.”
“We also regret that no similar invitation was extended by the Republican National Convention and that, despite our efforts, NETWORK was unable to find a venue there for sharing information about economic justice rooted in Catholic Social Teaching,” the news release stated.
The Sept. 16 “Election Workshop” by Sr. Campbell being promoted on the San Jose diocesan website is scheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Boulevard, in Oakland. A logo accompanying a flyer announcing the event bears the slogan, “Catholics Vote for the Common Good.”
In her speech last night, Sr. Campbell told the Democratic convention that the Ryan budget plan was immoral, and she reiterated her support for Obamacare. To see a video of her remarks, click here.