By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – Sister Simone Campbell got what may have been the biggest media platform of her life on Wednesday night, when she addressed the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. But the Catholic nun had plenty of star power before that.
Walking around Charlotte this week, Campbell was repeatedly stopped by fans who wanted to pose for pictures.
They had seen her on "The Colbert Report," pushing back on the Vatican's crackdown on American nuns, or read about the "nuns on the bus" tour that Simone organized to decry Rep. Paul Ryan's federal budget proposal.
"One woman came up to me and said 'my husband loves you; I'd be jealous if you weren't a nun,' " Campbell, 66, said Tuesday night.
By asking her to speak at their convention, the Democrats appear keen to capitalize on Campbell's budding celebrity at a moment when the official Roman Catholic Church has been critical of the Obama administration, claiming that it is infringing on religious liberty.
And at a convention that is revolving largely around an alleged GOP-led "war on women," Campbell is a poignant feminist symbol. She has stood up to the Vatican's criticisms of American nuns for what the church says is their fixation on progressive advocacy at the expense of promoting socially conservative positions.
"We're certainly oriented toward the needs of women and responding to their needs," she told Colbert in June, defending the nuns against the Vatican. "If that's radical, I guess we are."
But Campbell isn't taking marching orders from the Democratic Party, either.
When party officials asked her to speak in Charlotte, she made it plain she'd do it only if she could give voice to her anti-abortion views.
And when Democratic handlers revised a draft of her speech in a way that sounded too political to her, she told them she was happy to give her speaking slot to someone else.
The handlers were more than happy to work with her to revise the revisions.
On Wednesday night, Campbell said that Obama's health care law and expanding Medicaid coverage "is part of my pro-life stance and the right thing to do." It was the biggest applause lines in her speech, which was filled with big applause lines.
"Paul Ryan claims his budget reflects the principles of our shared Catholic faith," Campbell said later in her speech. "But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Ryan budget failed a basic moral test, because it would harm families living in poverty.
"We agree with our bishops," Campbell said. "I am my sister's keeper. I am my brother's keeper.
Campbell, who has a law degree from the University of California, Davis, has always been political.
Her parents took her the Democratic convention in Los Angeles to see John F. Kennedy.
But she says her work has always been fueled by a passion for helping the poor. When she's not giving interviews and staging bus tours, she works as executive director of Network, a Washington-based group that describes itself as a "Catholic social justice lobby."
In 2010, the organization played an important role in promoting President Obama's health care act at a time when the Roman Catholic Church opposed the legislation. The church alleged that the Affordable Care Act used federal funds to cover abortion (Democrats deny that claim).
Campbell organized a letter of support for the Affordable Care Act that was signed by dozens of leaders from women's religious orders, giving the White House and Democrats political cover in the face of attacks from conservative religious groups.
At a celebration after the signing ceremony for the law, Obama thanked Campbell for her help: "He gave me a big kiss and said I was a tipping point."
Campbell, who joined a religious order after her freshman year at college, says her support for Obamacare grew out of a lifelong concern for the poor.
"I remember as a kid, driving back from visiting relatives in Colorado and going through Indian reservations," she said. "I would cry because it was so hard to see such poor people. Something touched me."
She got her J.D. with an eye toward advocating for pro-poor public policy but wound up hanging a shingle in Oakland, California, helping the working poor on family law cases.
"For me, it was about being the gospel and living like Jesus did," she said. "Following folks who were suffering and at the margins, struggling hard to make ends meet. I was like a parish for the unchurched."
Campbell later traveled the world as the general director of her religious order, the Sisters of Social Service, founded in the 1920s by Hungary's first female member of parliament.
At Network, Campbell's proudest accomplishment is helping pass Obamacare. But she also boasts of becoming an early thorn in the side of Paul Ryan, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's running mate, by organizing the "nuns on the bus tour" in May.
The nine-state trip from Iowa to Washington was aimed at attacking the federal budget Ryan drew up as the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
The Ryan plan, in Campbell's view, "set up this total undermining of government services as a way for there to be additional tax cuts for the wealthy."
America's Catholic bishops also criticized Ryan's budget. But weeks before the nuns on the bus tour, the Vatican issued a bruising assessment of many American nuns, saying they offered a platform for "radical feminism" and played down church teachings on abortion and gay marriage.
To some church watchers, the nuns on the bus tour represented a thumb in the eye of the assessment from Rome.
But Campbell, who is not formally a part of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the group singled out by the Vatican assessment, has not been shy about saying that the church hierarchy is out of touch with the church's religious life.
"The shock made me numb at first, and then I was profoundly sad that my life as a woman religious and my commitment to serving the poor would be so denigrated by the leadership of our church,"
Campbell said this year, responding to Vatican criticism of American nuns.
Campbell didn't mention the nuns' tiff with Rome in her Wednesday night speech, but her mere presence raised the profile of women religious leaders at a time when the Democrats say women are under attack.
Rita, how old are you? Maybe what I have learned in Sunday school was exteremly different than what you have learned in Sunday school. Catechism has changed and some teachings have changed. I attended Sunday school in the 1980-90s in Europe. The nuns, priests, and catechists (not ordained) that taught us, talked about being kind to one another, respecting one another, loving one another, not using others, not stealing from others. They also talked about respecting one's body, not drinking, not smoking, not using drugs among other things. Gay issues or abortion issues were never discussed, but poverty and kindness and help for the poor was mentioned all the time.
Lies. You never went to catholic church then,
Sorry, Summer1 Catechism has not and does not change. Also
"thou shalt not kill" is also pretty clear.
Fred S and Holy Grail
Sorry but Catechism does change.
Our nuns and priest used to teach many "vengeful God" beliefs which are now unheard of. One example was the one about babies who died before a Church baptism could be performed forever being condemned to live an eternity in limbo. Bring that one up and see today's priests look at you like you are crazy.
We used to have to fast from midnight the night before WITHOUT EVEN ANY WATER TO DRINK in order to be allowed to received communion. Then it was 3 hrs. for food and 1 hr. for water. Now you can go straight to church right after a meal and go get a drink of water as you get on line for communion and that is perfectly fine.
There used to be absolute Holy Days of Obligation – – now the Pope has decided this is too "hard" on Catholics so just about every single Holy Day of Obligation is now rounded up or down to a Sunday and we kill 2 birds with 1 Mass.
For decades, confirmation was absolutely done at 12 years of age.
Then, For the last 30 yrs. or so it has become a 2 or 3 year uselessly drawn out production because years ago the "men" decided it should be a test of their faith which has resulted in few 16yr olds managing to stick it out until they are 18 or 19. .
Now, we RCIA instructors are being told Pope Benedict wants to change it so 7 year olds received confession, 1st communion and confirmation all in 1 service – – cause obviously 7 yr olds after 1st and 2nd grade CCD classes are sooooooo well versed in their faith they are ready to be confirmed. It will be interesting just how much will be demanded of adult converts when empty-headed 7 yr. olds have been deemed worthy to receive all 3 sacraments after a handful of classes.
The sad fact is a lot of things change simply because it is the whim of the Pope or Bishops.
Not sure I understand this article or why a nun was speaking... They left God out of the platform then because of outrage, put it back in today by faulty standards. It was voted nay on the floor yet they passed it??? Now all of a sudden people are giving speeches about faith, and God ... Don't quite believe the thick layer they are laying on.
Well, I learned something new today – that going into debt for a good cause is okay. That's great news. As Catholics now we should all mortgage whatever equity we have, sell anything we can, and borrow more, piling up debt for our kids – to give to the poor. Or should we?
Sister Simone's mischaracterization of the Ryan budget falls on the heels of the incorrect assessment by the USCCB; the Ryan budget wasn't making cuts in programs today, it's cutting planned expansions of programs – planned expansions that would drive us into deeper in debt with borrowed Chinese funding. It's immoral to squander ones resources, and borrow more money, leaving debt for your children, regardless of the cause. Living beyond one's means itself fails the basic scriptural test, whether one believes it is just or not. Remember when Judas decried Mary's anointing of Jesus, stating the money should have been given to the poor? Simone has taken the position of Judas, once again.
But I shouldn't be too surprised – Sister Simone is hardly ever in agreement with ecclesiastical authority, so when she is there must be something incredibly amiss. No wonder they had her talk at the DNC.
Thank God my 5 children grasp the fact the Pope is only infallible in matters of faith and morals. Dealing with snake oil salesman Paul Ryan and flip flop flip Romney does not come under any jurisdiction of the Pope as regards faith in The Holy Trinity.
Coping with the Republican ticket does demand we examine the morality and justice for those less fortunate in this world and in both cases they fail.
How on earth do you morally justify Ryan's plan as it only applies to the future? Do you plan on killing one heck of a lot of Americans so that the number of people needing help stays permanently at November 6, 2012's level.
As a matter of faith and Catholic teaching the sister is 100% correct and I personally feel Paul Ryan should be forbidden to received communion as the Bishops tried to do to John Kerry.
To bad we Catholics seem to be the only people who really understand the Bible the rest of you claim to live by. But then, we Catholics are the only true followers of Jesus Christ. The rest of you (or your parents) have shopped around for whatever watered down version of Catholicism matches the few demands you are willing to follow.
Please note that sister Campbell and her nun group is being reprimand and close to excommunicated from the Vatican for being too feminist. Furthermore, How can she Proclaim that she voice for the voiceless when she favors killing the unborn? Aren't those children are voiceless? If you want to cross over to Muslim go right ahead! don't go up there and say she is a Catholic Nun... She doesn't represent the Catholic church !
She is evil. She has lost her calling. Voice of women? Most are AGAINST abortion.
Sister Simone is a perfect example of the Catholic faith that I was raised in and embrace to this day. We had two nuns and a priest in the family who never talked about resstricting anyone's Civil Rights. They lived the Gospel as Sister Simone does, caring for the needy without judging them or anyone else.
QT – You REALLY need to go back to school and learn how to read. Reading requires the ability to grasp and comprehend what you have read.
You are 100% wrong. Her group of nuns IS NOT under threat of excommunication as the article took great pains to point out.
Also, you apparently are in capable of grasping what the term Right To Life means – – IT MEANS SHE IS ABSOLUTELY AGAINST ABORTION.
Please stop blogging as you obviously have no grasp of the English language.
IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE
PLEASE ASK THE CANDIDATE THE FOLLOWING QUESTION.
JONATHAN POLLARD HAS SPENT ENOUGH TIME IN PRISON.
IT IS TIME THAT HE IS PARDONED
LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
LET MY PEOLE GO
Rabbi Chaim Richman answers President Obama's Cairo speech
Religion and Politics hell Obama doesn't even have a religion or a birth certificate
You are just showing how stupid you are, too stupid to look up plain facts and look up the birth certificate that he submitted, in long form, to shut stupid people like you up. The live birth certificate could be shoved directly into your pathetic face, and you'd close your eyes and pretend you dont' see it. That's how ignorant you are.
U r right Jim...it took 2 years for him to provide a birth certificate, bc it took that long to forge one! to make sure all bases are covered! But those Americans are too hung up about Obama that they forget what he's capable of...Not to mention, the first President to deny our God!
And four years later you're still complaining about a birth certificate. You really have NOTHING else to go on huh? Why don't you start defending why Romney didn't pay taxes for 10 years?
Jim Whalen. Guess what? I don't believe that you are an American citizen. I believe that ICE should come and deport you . I am sure that your drivers license, social security card and birth certificate are forgeries.
God bless Sister Simone Campbell. As a fellow Catholic, I'm proud of her. She speaks for all that I believe in, the true spirit of the Bible: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27), in other words, caring for the poor and the helpless. Good luck with that Republicans.
Which means you go against the Church teachings! Do you not see that this president has caused the greatest division in the Catholic Church and this country!
How does she go against the church teachings. Rebuttal what the OP said. All I see you do is complain, but never offer a counter point.
@ded: if Church teachings go against the spirit of the Bible – the quoted verse above – then church teachings MUST change. Not the other way around.
Most helpless of all the unborn! how can she say she speaks for the voiceless? she doesn't represent us Catholic...call her what u will, but not a Catholic nun...One that's being excommunicated from the church already!
What part of this do you and deb not get? She has already said she is opposed to abortion.
So, as a Catholic you believe in the murder of the unborn? I will pray for the salvation of your soul.
Don't they teach you to read if you're Catholic?
Go Nuns! Wonderful presentation! So uplifting!
A pro-abortion nun speaking at a convention that just booed including God and Jerusalem in the platform. At least it is consistent.
You sure she is a nun? Where is the habit and UNBELIEVABLE!!!
She's pro-life, moron. Are you too stupid to read at an 8th grade level and comprehend this article? Typical republican.
LOL, learn to read
It might help if you read the entire article:
"When party officials asked her to speak in Charlotte, she made it plain she'd do it only if she could give voice to her anti-abortion views."
Anti-abortion, not pro abortion
This hate against our President of The United States of America is not a religion thing.
Unless you consider the KKK a religous group. As soon as the Republican party banded together and
made a PAC that they would do nothing to help .our country and assulted people should have showed us all why.
The republican party has turned into the hate party. Catholic heads along with other leaders of churches has prayer
mettings and prays for one thing. The defeat of The Afforadble Heathcare Act.
Church heads of true faith, prays for the poor and needy, hungry and starving, sick and inflicted, aging and dying.
If you watch the democratic convention that is who you see. All of these people.
It still amazes me the different in the followings of Barack's and Mitt's. But then, all Mitt has that follows him are
the upper few and the small portion of hate groups left in the USA.
ANTI-abortion, Montana Joe. ANTI.
She said she was against abortion- her organization is pro life- why do you keep saying she is pro abortion? You have no real criticism so you keep repeating a lie because your politics , NOT your religion, requires that lie to keep you faithful to it ? If you need to lie, you are probably wrong.
How can she be anti-abortion (thought it was pro-life) if she is for ObamaCare and the HHS mandate that forces insurance companies and you and I through premiums to pay for abortions?
You're being intellectually dishonest...She is not pro-abortion... In all my years, I've yet to meet anyone who is pro-abortion, let alone the good sister... Her case is based on her work to serve the least of her brethren, which she and her sister sister's so righteously do everyday. The dems live the church's teaching through action and have the example of the life of Christ on their side. There are radical, fringe contingencies on both sides that represent the worst the world has to offer...
Shame on anyone who defames the good sisters and their lives of dedicated to the work of Christ.
It has baffled me for some time now. That the evangelical Christian base of the Republican party. Which to my understanding makes up a large portion of the party. It has baffled me that they are so against the poor. Everything I know about the bible says that we should help the poor. That it is in fact immoral to be rich. (Camel and the eye of a needle).
I am not against the rich. Not at all. So long as they do not use their riches to try and pass laws that govern my life. And I am not for enabling the poor to be poor. But distributing wealth to the poor in the guise of programs that will help life them from being poor(education comes to mind)is a socialistic idea that all Christians should support.
Great response. Care to correct me. Debate me? Anything?
I am very open to civil discourse.
Let me try to explain this to you. I was formerly a left-wing Democrat. I am now an evangelical Christian and a Republican. You ask how evangelicals can be so against the poor, when the Bible speaks in favor of the poor. You are correct that the Bible says that we should be concerned about the poor. We are told to love all people as we love ourselves. We are also told that, on the Day of Judgement, we will be judged in large part by whether we helped others in need. So, Christians, all Christians, are concerned about the poor. This is a moral rule, given to us by the Bible. The Bible, however, does not give us any guidance on the details of economic and social policy. It is up to us to determine what the most effective practical ways are to help the poor. On this point, people can legitimately disagree. I can tell you, however, that I left the Democratic Party, and stopped being a political liberal, primarily because I saw that the ever-more expensive social welfare spending pushed by the Democrats were not solving the nation's problems. We spent more and more, but got less and less result. I believe that a free enterprise approach is better for the poor, because it gives them the means to help themselves. The best example of this is the welfare reform law of 1996. This reform put into action the free enterprise approach to social policy, and it has been tremendously successful. It has reduced the number of Americans in poverty. So, while I would not call liberals bad Christians, because I believe they sincerely believe in their ideas, I have to reply when someone says that conservatives do not care about the poor. We do, we just have a different view of what policy will help the poor most effectively.
Rick, then you may want to reconsider your party. While it's legitimate to argue some social programs are too expensive, social security is self-funded and medicare stops a lot of people from dying. It is downright immoral to endorse the Ryan plan, giving tax breaks to billionaires while breaking the backs of those who are already struggling. Jesus said the rich are corrupt and are the most likely to go to hell. SO the party of the rich is also corrupt, and guess where they're going? Perhaps you should change YOUR party before you follow them there.
First thank you. Its good discuss these things without out the... crazyness.
I have heard the argument that through the church many Christians help the poor, but do not believe that the government should impose taxes on its citizens to do so. The key difference is choice. You choose to give to the church you do not have to. And, if you see that church is not doing a good job, or what you think is right, then you can choose not to give, or ever change your place of worship. Where as the is no choice when you are taxed by the government. Not choice in giving or not giving, and not choice and going to another government if you believe your "donation" is not doing the good you intended.
I respect that belief. And I actually agree with it. I have two issues. First is mega churches. They seem to spend way too much money on self rather than selfless. Two is that in our society, it is going to take a lot of trucks to move some of the mountains that are the obstacles we face. It can not be done through church alone. Government has to take a role.
I am not a left wing democrat. I have many very conservative views. I used to say I was a blue dog dem(fiscally conservative, socially liberal). Then I decided I was Libertarian until I realized that there are some problems libertarianism is not suited to solve. Now I just think I am independent. I really think we need to look at every problem individualistically. And try to find the best answer to that problem without bias. Some solutions are to cut the kid from the teat, but some are to teach the kid to be on his own by nurturing the child.
You can't just turn words like conservatism or socialism, or liberalism, or capitalism in to slur words.
Ken Kesey named his bus Further. These nuns should name theirs "Jeebus."
A nun at a political convention where everything that is the extreme opposite of Catholic beliefs is celebrated?
Amusing. I wonder what reward Obama has promised her.
I'm a Catholic. Helping the poor is not against Catholic values...viciously taxing them to support the wealthiest citizens is. Jesus not only devoted his life to the impoverished he denounced the wealthy.
"[E]verything that is the extreme opposite of Catholic beliefs is celebrated"? I don't think so. Catholics have been on the forefront of advocating for the poor, even believing that God has a special preference for the poor. The Bible is filled with commands to take care of the poor, of "the least of these," of widows and orphans. of strangers (immigrants) about us. Sounds like the Democratic platform to me.
Why is the democratic convention the extreme opposite of catholic beliefs? Democrats are not anti-religion, they are people of many religions. And being pro-choice doesn't mean I deny you your right to choose as your conscience requires you choose. It only means that I don't force my religious beliefs on you and I ask that you don't force yours on me. All religions and in fact, all sociieties see caring for the weak and the old and the sick and the poor as a duty. Why argue about this? Seems silly to me.
Boo Hiss! Unfair critique of the good Sister. Also, most nuns in the USA do NOT wear habits. The habits were originally modeled on the dress of peasants. The non-habited Sisters are simply wearing the style of the day, as was the will of their founders.
What a speech on the 15 anniversary of Mother Teresa's death, Great job Sister, you are an America Hero.
Its amusing how fast the 'anti-theists' and anti-Catholic crowd of CNN is just as quick to throw away their 'anti-' beliefs when they find someone who is breaking just as many beliefs by appearing at the convention.
i watched the entire speech and didn't notice any "beliefs broken." There was nothing in Sr. Campbell's speech that was against any Catholic belief. She exposed more holes in the Ryan budget than there are in a pound of swiss cheese!
Your right, it is vastly more important.
Great job sister Campbell, Sister Campbell for Prez in 2016!
Peace of Christ be with the Nuns on the Bus, Love and Peace to all.
Sorry I missed this speech. Romney's selection of Ryan was a slap in the face to the nuns. The Democrats have room for a wide range of views as opposed to the GOP who are the most narrow-minded bigots in the universe.
The NUNS on the Bus are RIGHT!!!!! They are acting base on God Words.....Read the New Testament ..Read the word of Jesus Christ ...Nothing else ....and pray that he will open your hearts and eyes . Jesus said .." I want Mercy not sacrifice"
Jesus said " Do not store riches on earth were moth and roth destroy " and what about the parabole of the "GOOD SAMARITAN" .....What about you cannot serve two master ..".you either serve MONEY OR GOD" ..
God Bless Sister Simone! Speaking up for the voiceless. The GOP dont have a problem with Greed, Selfishness, or Materialism.
HEY EVERYONE! Why are you not commenting on the "Nun's Story"?? Not a single comment for any of you? SHAME ON YOU ALL at CNN!
What I don't understand is the only thing she was blasting was the Romney/Ryan budget and even said it was immoral. As a Catholic wouldn't you consider it immoral to believe that marrage between anything other than a man and a woman immoral, wouldn't being pro choice be immoral? I guess Ryans PROPOSED budget is more important than these Christian beliefs.
Funny, james r, I don't remember Jesus saying anything about gay marriage but lots & lots about the poor & the sick. The sister did say she was pro-life...or didn't you bother to read the article?
To MJ – She claims to be "pro-life" but applies that only to those living outside the womb. True pro-lifers consider all human life sacred and so she has misused the term.
I think most people commenting on Catholicism have never study Catholicism or have never been members of the community. People like james r know Catholicism from the movies and TV. No! social justice was/is more important to Catholics of the XX and XXI centrury than issues such as gay marriage. We believe that gay people should be happy and should have their freedoms. .......
Budget is more important, because budget and the ability to afford healthcare and proper nutrition and raising kids is a much more important prolife issue than any other type of prolife policy (i.e. being anty-abortion). Setting the right budget saves more lives than any pro-life policy.
The personal Sin is between God and that person ...Helping others is all responsability..".that what you do to the least of thee you have done unto me.
Summerday – please take a hard look at the Catechism.
The other issue is statistics. Pro-life stance helps only few, and disregards them right after they are born. Proper budget, healthcare, and setting living wages helps more and allows more people to be born and taking care of them. Even during pregancy, proper nutrition and healthcare is more important to the fetus than the anti-abortion policy. With proper nutrition and healthcare you are more likely to carry a baby to term and give birth to a healthy child when you choose to give birth. Even when there are laws preventing abortion, it's easy to abort. Haven't you heard of abortion turism, or doing abortions illegaly?
The article clearly stated that she is against abortion ... either you didn't read that, or are hoping that no one else did.
@jop199 – Yeah she "claims" to be against abortion but supports the most radically pro-abortion president ever elected. So what do you really believe her position is when claiming to be "pro-life"?
James r, you seem a bit confused. People should have the right to marry the person they love. Jesus was all about freeing people from the bonds of the religion of his day. There is so much more to religion than this and that rule. Jesus narrowed all the rules down to two: Love God and Love your Neighbor as yourself. Terribly simple when you think about it.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.