Sister Simone Campbell rocketed to religious celebrity last summer as leader of the famed “Nuns on the Bus” tour, which traveled through nine states highlighting the struggles of the poor and elderly.
Now the Catholic nun is bringing her “economic justice” message to Minnesota — first to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Paul at public talk on Tuesday. Then to the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph on Wednesday.
Campbell hopes to emphasize what she views as key solutions to the income disparity between the haves and have-nots: raising the minimum wage, enacting a tax policy “that doesn’t preference the top” earners, investing in the nation’s infrastructure and protecting the environment, among others.
“It’s not that the people who are wealthy are bad,” Campbell said in an interview this week. “It’s just that the skewed distribution is making it bad for all of us. We’re in this together. There is a positive way forward that’s good for all of us. Policy choices make a difference.”
As executive director of Network, a liberal-leaning Catholic lobbying group in Washington, D.C., Campbell, 67, travels the country spreading her message. She’s been in demand since she and other U.S. nuns were censured last year by the Vatican, which accused the women of embracing “radical feminism” and not focusing enough attention on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Soon after, she and other nuns embarked on their “Nuns on the Bus” tour. She was also a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Campbell credits the Vatican’s scathing rebuke for helping highlight her cause.
“Catholic sisters’ role ... is to bring the Gospel to the margins of the society. Therefore we walk every day with people who struggle. The difference between us and the bishops who criticize us is just that — our role. The bishops walk with those who are in leadership and have the responsibility for protecting the institution.”
“Praise God, our role is to walk with folks who struggle. It’s way easier to live the Gospel this way — at least in my view.”
Rose French • 612-673-4352