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Nun who leads Network disparages bishops, hesitant to call herself pro-life

Catholic World News - June 13, 2012

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.”

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.”

In February, Network issued a statement “applaud[ing] the administration’s accommodation of religious conscience objections to the provision of insurance coverage for contraceptives to women at no cost to them.”

The Charlotte diocesan newspaper also reported that

Sister Campbell questioned many Catholics’ focus on that one issue [abortion], criticizing the pro-life movement as not considering the entire spectrum of Catholic social teaching, but then she acknowledged that "progressive" Catholics like herself have contributed to the discord between pro-life and pro-social justice Catholics.

"I have allowed a very narrow perspective on what is life, because I actually feel like I'm going to develop a rash or something if I use 'life' in that broader sense," she said.

She has avoided framing social justice concerns as "pro-life" issues, she said, "because I don't want to be thought of as in (the pro-life) camp. Because of my pride, as opposed to my faith."

We need "to reclaim the fullness of our faith," she said. We need to go beyond left vs. right, socialist vs. capitalist, she said: We are Catholic.

In its doctrinal assessment of the LCWR, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had expressed concern about Network, stating that

Bishop Blair presented further documentation on the content of the LCWR’s Mentoring Leadership Manual and also on the organizations associated with the LCWR, namely Network and The Resource Center for Religious Institutes. The documentation reveals that, while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States. Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching.

St. Peter’s Catholic Church, the Jesuit parish at which Sister Campbell’s talk took place, had planned to hold a Qur’an reading during Mass in June 2011 until the reading was abruptly canceled.

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Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Convert96 - Jun. 14, 2012 12:03 PM ET USA

    Thanks for the clarity, DRJAZZ. Helpful.

  • Posted by: unum - Jun. 14, 2012 6:58 AM ET USA

    LCWR and Network are a case study of what happens when the bishops refuse to speak out promptly and forcefully when "Catholic" groups and public figures take positions that are clearly contrary to the teaching of the Church. Once those in error sense confusion on the part of the laity, they begin to play to an audience and the error of their original statements is compounded. The confusion of the laity is fed by the silence of the hierarchy and their failure to "teach as Jesus did".

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jun. 13, 2012 9:36 PM ET USA

    I'll take that as a "No." to the question.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Jun. 13, 2012 6:52 PM ET USA

    Most of the pro-life folks I know do consider the full spectrum of Catholic social issues as they work to carry out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This week I delivered baby clothes to a prolife group that takes no government funding, but provides through the donation of Catholic donors for families and their children: clothes, diapers, cribs, strollers, furniture, emergency food... Sister should learn about the pro-life work before disparaging those who care about life each day

  • Posted by: williiam ronner - Jun. 13, 2012 12:55 PM ET USA

    And someone actually questions the need to reform this group?

  • Posted by: ltoscan2645 - Jun. 13, 2012 9:16 AM ET USA

    what absolute c__p...it is unbelievable to me how much and to what length these lost religious will go to explain their non-Catholic, anti-Catholic positions..when will our leadership put an end to this garbage...if I read one more statement about the great contributios the LCWR has made I will puke...this person ( I have a hard time calling her sister) is a real representative of the state of the members of the LCWR...God have mercy on us

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Jun. 13, 2012 7:19 AM ET USA

    Sister Campbell thinks we need to go beyond left vs. right . . . to the left.

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