With a clarion call for social justice, a group of Catholic Sisters recently completed their nine-state tour.
Network Executive Director Simone Campbell said the tour probably would not have occurred except for Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) claiming his budget was based upon his understanding of Catholic social teaching. Once he attached a faith statement to what amounts to massive cuts aimed at those least able to support themselves in our recent economic situation, Simone Campbell said she became angry: angry by the misrepresentation of Catholic (Christian) teaching and angry that such drastic measures had apparently created very little debate on the House floor before the representatives passed it.
In her speech before those gathered at the first bus stop in Iowa, Sister Campbell called attention to the inherent problem often touted in budget debates where we are urged to believe it is our rugged individualism making our country great and unique. The problem Campbell points out, though, is that individual responsibility only works when paired with the corresponding conviction of solidarity, the idea that we are all in this together.
Over the last several years, she claims, we have witnessed those at the very top income brackets making record amounts of money not from their diligent work so much as from the hard work of the average laborer. And rather than share the resulting wealth—something naturally occurring if there was a strong sense of solidarity among all of us—those at the top have pocketed the money, thinking primarily only of themselves.
Instead of seeing the government, then, as a force to oppose, she says it is the government’s duty to provide safeguards for keeping solidarity in the mix. And, we witness this solidarity in action when we pay taxes, some of it used to help those in need: the elderly and their prescription drugs, single mothers working minimum wage jobs, those who have lost their jobs and subsequently medical insurance, etc.
Sister Campbell and the Catholic Sisters are reminding us how budgets are moral documents and how each of us is responsible to do what is within our power to do. Drawing from the biblical narrative of Moses standing on holy ground next to the burning bush, Campbell said God employs Moses in his liberating task because God has heard the cries of the people, cries born out of grief and misery and oppression. God’s dream, if we learn anything from Moses’ burning bush experience, is one of fulfillment and liberation, of solidarity and community.
Paul Ryan clearly did not learn his Catholic theology very well.
If you’d like to see more, check out their website where they provide details about Paul Ryan’s budget and how it would drastically cut important programs that have been a part of our collective reality for years.
Also on their website: evidence of how a radical group of too-feminist-leaning nuns are working for change by speaking out against injustice in our country and standing strong against patriarchal power trying its best to silence them.
As Sister Campbell notes, they had to do something because “this is not our country; this is not we the people.”