Power outages force sisters to skip Frederick office on 15-day bus tour
By Maria Wiering
Religious sisters on a 15-day, nine-state trek to protest Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal cancelled a June 30 event scheduled to take place outside of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s Frederick office after a storm caused power outages in the area.
According to a member of Rep. Bartlett’s staff, a meeting was not scheduled between the congressman and the sisters, who were part of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign.
The sisters held a 7 p.m. “friend raiser” at the Stony Run Meeting House on Charles St. in Baltimore, which was closed to the press. Between 175 and 200 people attended the event, according to a Network spokesperson.
“Nuns on the Bus” was sponsored by Network, a Catholic social-justice lobby that works with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The tour began in Iowa June 18 and ended July 2 in Washington, D.C.
The campaign’s website provides the road trip’s rationale: “Every hour of each day, Catholic sisters stand in solidarity with all who live in poverty, and we confront injustice and systems that cause suffering. We cannot stand by silently when the U.S. Congress considers further enriching the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families,” it states.
Five sisters were on the bus when it stopped in Baltimore: Sister of Social Service Simone Campbell, executive director of Network; Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Marge Clark; Daughter of Charity Sister Mary Lacy; Sister of Social Services Diane Donoghue; and Sister of Mercy Diane Guerin.
Twelve nuns took turns riding the bus over the course of the trip, according to a campaign spokesperson. Those who came to Baltimore stayed in dorms at Loyola University Maryland.
Rep. Bartlett voted in favor of Ryan’s budget in March, but said in May that he almost did not because he did not think it went far enough.
“I didn’t think it was going to solve our problem. It didn’t cut enough, we weren’t going to balance this budget,” he said on the House floor. He said that the growth predicted in Ryan’s plan is too optimistic given the world’s dependence on oil and the rising cost of fuel.
Ryan, a Republican representing Wisconsin’s 1st District, is chairman of the U.S. House of Representative’s Budget Committee. The House twice passed his budget proposal, titled “The Path to Prosperity,” first in 2011, and again in 2012, but it failed both times in the Senate.
The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate has not passed a budget since April 2009.
Ryan says his plan would pay down the nation’s $15 trillion debt and grow the economy.
“It is a plan of action that builds upon a bipartisan consensus for principled solutions: real spending discipline and restored economic freedom, patient-centered health care reform and pro-growth tax reform,” Ryan wrote earlier this year in an Op-Ed for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Some critics, including Network, charge that the plan would adversely affect those in poverty by raising taxes on low-income families and reducing the accessibility of federally-funded health care and food assistance.
In several media interviews and at an event at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Ryan argued earlier this year that his budget adheres to Catholic social teaching, which includes a preferential option for the poor. Critics argued that he misappropriated the teaching.
In March and April, U.S. bishops sent letters to each member of Congress urging its members to consider human life and dignity, and the poor when creating a budget.
“As Catholic bishops, we have tried to remind Congress that these choices are economic, political and moral,” one letter stated.
Network advocates that Congress adopts measures from “Priorities for a Faithful Budget,” a document created by a collaboration of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities.
According to he document’s preamble, its aim is to compel national leaders to “act with mercy and justice by serving the common good, robustly finding support for poor and vulnerable people, both at home and abroad, and exercising proper care and keeping of the earth.”
Catholic organizations that endorsed the document’s preamble include the Conference of Major Superiors of Men; the Franciscan Action Network; Institute Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Jesuit Conference; Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, United States; Leadership Conference of Women Religious; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity; National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; Pax Christi USA and Network.
Network recently received criticism from the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a document outlining its concerns about the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The document suggested that through organizations including Network, the LCWR promotes a limited spectrum of Catholic social teaching through being “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.”
Copyright (c) July 2, 2012 CatholicReview.org