Having been born in 1942, I came of age in the 1960s, a decade of revolutionary change to be proud of.
Some people dismiss the ‘60s as the Me generation; a time of indiscipline and self-indulgence. I have a different take. In the 1960s, when people were indeed encouraged to contemplate themselves, to ask who am I? … they were supposed to answer with not just self-definition and discipline … but with a sense of responsibility to a wider world and a mission to make it better. Or at least that was the plan.
Religions may focus on the eternal, but they live in the real world. So, the secular revolutions of the ‘60s were reflected inside the Roman Catholic Church and articulated in the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, usually shorthanded as VATICAN II, a reconsideration of church doctrine that started in 1962 under Pope John XXIII and completed under Pope Paul VI in 1965.
The mini-revolutions of Vatican II translated the Mass from Latin to vernacular languages and encouraged priests to conduct it facing, not The Cross, but the Congregation. Vatican II simplified the Church calendar, trimmed religious vestments and recognized an imperative to engage with a wider world of other religions and other believers.
The Vatican II tradition is about moving the Church Universal closer to all the people.
The NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice founded and led by our guest today Sister Simone Campbell puts itself explicitly in the Vatican II tradition, “to create a society that promotes justice and the dignity of all in the shared abundance of God’s creation.”
The outreach arm of NETWORK is the Nuns on the Bus Tour where those abstract goals of “justice and dignity” are made real through advocacy to reverse Donald Trump’s 2018 tax bill and a revive and expand the Affordable Care Act.
For the last half of January 2019, Sister Simone was on the bus in New Mexico, a poor state full of dispossessed people. Turning around poverty on a statewide level will take time, but a good way to start is teaching people who to use all the powers in their possession.
Simone Campbell, SSS, (Sisters of Social Service) is an American Roman Catholic Religious Sister, lawyer, lobbyist and executive director of NETWORK. She belongs to the Sisters of Social Service. She is known as an outspoken advocate for social justice.
She joined the Sisters of Social Service, an international Roman Catholic religious congregation rooted in the Benedictine tradition, in 1964 and took her final vows in 1973, adopting the name “Simone.” She received a bachelor’s degree in 1969 from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles.
In 1978 Campbell founded the Community Law Center in Oakland, California, which she served for the next 18 years as its lead attorney. She practiced family law and worked on the needs of the working poor of her county in Probate Court.
Between 1995 and 2000, Campbell was the General Director of her religious institute and oversaw its activities in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Campbell was first recruited to lead NETWORK in 2004 and continues to serve as its executive director.
Simone Campbell was targeted by then Pope Benedict XVI in his investigation of American nuns. Pope Francis, mindful of American Catholics’ negative views on the criticism of their nuns, put an abrupt end to the Vatican investigation and welcomed their representatives to a conciliatory meeting.
Unlike some members of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, Sister Campbell supported the Affordable Care Act, both as a matter of social justice and as a better way to eliminate abortion rather than through criminalization:
With regard to sexual abuse committed by clergy and covered up in the Catholic Church, Campbell noted in 2017 that she found it “outrageous” that the church was failing to sufficiently address sexual abuse and clerical accountability.