FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 23, 2020
SPEAKER PELOSI, SENATOR BOOKER, SEIU PRESIDENT MARY KAY HENRY, AND SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL RALLY CATHOLICS AROUND “EQUALLY SACRED” VALUES AT NUNS ON THE BUS CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
Sister Simone Campbell Calls Trump, Barr Appearance at National Catholic Prayer Breakfast “Scandalous;” Joins Over 200 Catholic Leaders Calling for Barr to Reject Award
Speaker Pelosi on National Catholic Prayer Breakfast: “There’s a big difference between what Christ would do and what they’re honoring this morning.”
Washington, DC – Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), SEIU President Mary Key Henry, and Sister Simone Campbell rallied progressive Catholic voters at the Nuns on the Bus: Who We Elect Matters campaign launch.
“I join you in expressing dismay that the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast would be honoring someone who doesn’t [represent Christ]. There’s a big difference between what Christ would do and what they’re honoring this morning,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, was joined by Catholics in political swing states from across the country. The virtual tour will register voters and discuss “equally sacred priorities” to Catholics like racial justice, economic equality, health care access, immigration reform, and the housing crisis.
“In the political shadow of the Catholic Prayer Breakfast this morning, our politicians are once again attempting to wrangle Catholics with the all too flawed, narrow, and politically opportunistic view of our faith. It is in this context we launch Nuns on the Bus,” said Sister Simone Campbell. “We are visiting with communities across the country to remind Catholics of the equally sacred priorities of our shared faith. We must elect leaders who can empathize with the most marginalized among us, understand the urgent need to keep one another safe from disease, end structural racism, fix our broken immigration system, support social programs that pull families out of poverty, and expand health care access for all people.”
Today’s remarks come just before President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr are set to address the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, Sister Simone Campbell joined more than 200 Catholic priests, sisters, theologians, and lay leaders in a letter addressed to Attorney General Barr urging him not to accept an award from the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. The letter calls Barr’s decision to accept the award an “utterly shocking and an affront to our faith,” and calls on Barr to “…reverse [the Administration’s] support of the federal death penalty. Respect the dignity of life.” Sister Simone Campbell said “[t]his is the antithesis of a man who protects life, and it is scandalous that he is being given an award for such uncatholic behavior.”
In August, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice encouraged its members to vote against President Trump – the first announcement of its kind in the organization’s nearly 50 year history – telling members in a statement: “Catholics cannot be true to their faith and vote for Donald Trump in November.” The group also announced the release of its Equally Sacred Scorecard for voters. This scorecard compares President Trump’s and Vice President Biden’s positions on the issues that Pope Francis names as “equally sacred” to the defense of the unborn, including caring for immigrants and ending economic inequality. At the opening rally, Speaker Pelosi remarked, “I’ve always said thank god for the nuns. Without the nuns, we would have never had passed the Affordable Care Act. Without the nuns, we would have never saved the Affordable Care Act.”
“My Catholic faith drives my fight for justice each and every day,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “We have to come together and elect a new president. The Catholic teachings call on us to be multi-issue voters. Pope Francis… asks us to bring sacred issues into the voting booth.”
The Nuns on the Bus: Who We Elect Matters campaign is led by NETWORK, which was founded nearly 50 years ago to work for justice through education, organization, and lobbying for economic and social transformation. In 2020, the Sisters will host virtual events in over 56 communities across the country in states where the Catholic vote will be critical to the presidential election, including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Florida, California, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, Arizona, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Speakers at each event will encourage participants to vote, and ask guests to take a pledge to speak to their friends about voting.
“This is a moment that calls for a more courageous and a more radical love for our nation,” said Senator Cory Booker. “What is patriotism but love of country? And you cannot love your country unless you love your fellow countrymen and women.”
The tour will also conduct virtual site visits designed to showcase what issues are at stake in the election. These include:
- Flint, MI – St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center (9/29)
- Rio Grande Valley, TX – Angry Tias and Abuelas (10/5)
- Columbus, OH – Faith in Public Life’s Harm Reduction Program (10/12)
- Nogales, AZ – The Kino Border Initiative (10/19)
- Milwaukee, WI – Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (10/20)
- Kansas City, MO – Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund (10/21)
- Detroit, MI – Cass Community Social Services (10/22)
Approximately 23% of the votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were by Catholics, and the Catholic vote will play an even greater role in the 2020 presidential election. According to a recent study, 44 percent of respondents said Biden is more kind than Trump, which is the leading cause of defections among Catholics who supported Trump in 2016. The Who We Elect Matters campaign will seek to broaden the tent with a new generation of Catholic voters by calling attention to equally sacred priorities.
In 2012, NETWORK organized the first Nuns On The Bus tour to speak out against Speaker Paul Ryan’s immoral federal budget proposal that disproportionately favored the wealthy at the expense of average American families. Since then, NETWORK has launched six tours to address deep-rooted issues affecting societal inequity and injustices. Past tours have included lobbying elected officials, issue-driven town halls, and site visits to local nonprofits in Mar-a-Lago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. Most recently, in 2018, the Nuns visited 13 Republican members of Congress who supported the unjust 2017 Republican tax law and helped produce 11 Congressional victories in those states in the Midterm elections.
For the full schedule of the Nuns on the Bus campaign visit: https://networklobby.org/bus2020/events/.
About NETWORK Lobby
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice – advocates for justice inspired by Catholic Sisters – educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. They have a nearly 50-year track record of lobbying for critical federal programs that support those at the margins and prioritize the common good. www.networklobby.org