Sister Janet standing with residents of Providence House

Sister Janet’s Remarks at Union Theological Seminary

Sister Janet Kinney, CSJ
September 1, 2016

On Thursday, September 1, 2016 Sister Janet Kinney, Executive Director of Providence House and a “Nun on the Bus,” joined Rev. William J. Barber, II and other national faith leaders to “speak out against hateful rhetoric and policies and the historical revisionism we are seeing in the Presidential campaign.” She said:

I am Sister Janet Kinney, a Sister of St. Joseph, and one of the 19 “Nuns on the Bus” who toured the country just a few short weeks ago. A project of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, I, together with my sisters, rode through 23 cities in 13 states, listening and engaging with others in various types of gatherings, comprised of diverse representations of our country.

We went on the road in response to the divisive rhetoric of this 2016 election cycle, and as an answer to Pope Francis’ call that a ‘healthy politics is sorely needed to resolve the widening income gaps, especially the racial/ethnic and gender wealth gaps. To mend these gaps we must have a politics of inclusion where everyone’s voice is heard and given serious consideration.

Our tour included stops at both national party conventions, participating in multiple conversations and caucuses in every city we visited. We visited sites of social justice ministries and met with faith and community leaders alike. As I listened, encountered and spoke with our brothers and sisters,  I realized that it is so hard for people to find hope in the civil discourse of today.  I  heard heartbreaking stories of struggling families, of stark economic inequalities and blatant racism and discrimination.

People are hungry for hope and justice for communities that will stand together regardless of one’s race, ethnicity, or culture.  This cannot be done through the damaging and hateful speech making that is being heard in this political season. We need to promote the common good, engage in constructive dialogue and create inclusive policies reflective of an authentic democratic society.

That is what I heard traveling as a Nun on the Bus – morning, noon and night – in the voices and cries of “We the People”.

Immediately following on this experience, over 5,600 religious sisters across this country signed a letter asking our presidential candidates ‘to engage in political dialogue that reflects the principles and values upon which this nation was founded.’  We implored these candidates to refrain from language that stokes the fires of fear and disrespects, dehumanizes or demonizes another. We urged them to engage in careful listening and honest dialogue. They must respect and treat all with the reverence that is a sacred God given right.   It is then, only then, that we can together create an environment where everyone has a rightful place at the table and all are welcomed here in this, the United States of America.