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Nuns on the Bus Stop in Concord for Rally to “Mend the Gaps”

2016-07-22 Nuns on the Bus Sr Simone Campbell

Sr. Simone Campbell addresses the crowd, while some of the Nuns on the Bus take shelter from the heat under umbrellas.

About 125 Granite Staters braved today’s heat to meet Sister Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus at a State House rally to “Mend the Gaps” between us that weaken society, including gaps in income, healthcare, housing and access to democracy.

Campbell and nearly 20 Catholic sisters from around the country are visiting 13 states and both major party conventions on a tour that began July 11.  The tour’s goal is “to bring a politics of inclusion to divided places, change the conversation to mending the vast economic and social divides in our country, and counter political incivility with our message of inclusion.  NETWORK’s 44 year-old faith-filled political message is an alternative to the anger, fear, and polarization of this election cycle.  We believe in faithful citizenship, which compels us to travel the country to listen to the lived experiences of people in their communities and hold elected officials accountable to the promises they have made to legislate for the common good.”

The sisters are caucusing with local advocates in Manchester tonight, and will hold a rally in Boston tomorrow starting at 10:00 am on the front lawn of Boston College High School, 150 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125.  The full tour schedule is available at www.nunsonthebus.org.

At today’s rally, the sisters distributed brochures comparing candidates’ positions on “Mending the Gaps.”  Download the brochure comparing Kelly Ayotte with Maggie Hassan here and the brochure comparing Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump here.

Granite Staters shared their stories about the growing gaps in our economy which are making the American dream unattainable for too many families.

  • Jazmine Langley and Olivia Zink of Open Democracy signed the Bus before it left Concord, on the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

    Jazmine Langley, a Democracy Fellow with Open Democracy/NH, spoke about the challenges facing her as a biracial woman. “I have seen oppression up close. I have witnessed the gaps woven into the fabric of our country that are very much racially and socioeconomically based. From drug addiction to poverty. From police brutality to mass imprisonment. From strict voter ID laws to felon disenfranchisement. Our elected representatives and ourselves need to be held accountable for mending this gap. Whether that is by trying to spark legal reform in getting big money out politics, registering more voters, or fighting voter suppression laws, doing non-profit work dedicated to some aspect of this issue, or just educating yourselves, families, friends, and children about the issue at hand – it all makes a difference. This is our democracy, so this is our fight!”  You can watch Jazmine’s speech here.

  • Amy Shaw, a mother of two living in Rochester spoke about the challenge of finding affordable childcare. “Even with both my husband and I working, we couldn’t afford to send our kids to daycare. I had to quit my job because my monthly income wasn’t going to cover my childcare costs.” Watch Amy’s remarks here.
  • Jen Cole, of Pittsfield, said “Low wages make it challenging to pay the bills week to week but nearly impossible when life throws you a curveball. My husband was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and could not work for several months. We had to survive off of my income and rely on family and friends to help us through what was already a difficult time. If someone is working full time they should be able to make ends meet and not have to fear they’ll lose everything if they get sick.”
  • Sister Eileen Brady, of Nashua, is a Social Worker and Advocate at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. As a Sister of Mercy, she has been a staunch advocate for peace and justice for decades.  “The Sisters of Mercy have been trying to ‘Mend the Gaps’ since 1858,” Sister Eileen said.  She shared stories of people she has met through the Nashua Soup Kitchen, “My friends who have no place to live tonight.”  You can watch her remarks here.

“Pope Francis challenges all people to come together to work for the common good,” said Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, which launched the first Nuns on the Bus tour during the 2012 presidential campaign. “On our journey as Nuns on the Bus we will talk to those Pope Francis voters and, hopefully, inspire them to make mending the gaps the defining issue of the 2016 election.”

2016-07-22 Nuns on the Bus crowd2

Part of today’s crowd on the State House lawn.

“Every New Hampshire family deserves a fair shot at the American dream but rising costs, stagnant wages and unfair workplace policies are putting that dream out of reach for too many working people,” said Amanda Sears, director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, a co-sponsor of the Concord rally.  “The visit from the Nuns on the Bus today highlights the need for family friendly policy solutions that lift workers and make our communities stronger.”

Today’s program was emceed by Gail Kenney of the United Church of Christ Economic Justice Mission Group.  Jack Bopp and Arnie Alpert led everyone in a rousing rendition of “We’re All Riding with the Nuns on The Bus.”  Opening prayers were offered by Rev. Gary M. Schulte, the Conference Minister of the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ, and Woullard Lett, president of the Manchester, NH branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Today’s rally was cosponsored by organizations including AFSC’s NH Program, NH Voices of Faith, Granite State Organizing Project, United Church of Christ Economic Justice Ministry, NH Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, NH Sisters of Mercy, and Stamp Stampede.

 

 

 

Catholic Latino Should Be Natural Allies With The GOP? Yeah, Not So Much

Catholic church

The other day I was listening to “the Exchange” with Laura Knoy, and they were discussing the new GOP ‘Autopsy’ (read my full post on this show). One of the guests, Steve Duprey (RNC Executive Council), said something that really offended me.

Duprey was talking about how the GOP needs to do better to reach out to Latino voters.  He said that Latino voters should be natural allies with the GOP.

“…They tend to be Catholic. They tend to be faithful. They tend to have strong family units…”

This is not the first time I have heard this line.  It was very similar to the line that Senator Rand Paul proclaimed at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce a few weeks ago.

Being raised Catholic, I take great offense to this.  The idea that because I am Catholic, I should automatically have supported Mitt Romney and his policies in the last election?  This is the most ironic thing I have ever heard from the GOP.

Catholicism is based on the teaching of the Bible.  The Bible is full of stories of how Jesus cared for the poor, and urged his followers to do the same.  The Bible teaches us to be selfless, and to care for those who cannot care for themselves.  Does this sound like the message that the GOP is pushing right now?

The Catholic Church has always been there for the working and lower class: helping to feed the hungry, provide shelter to those who have none and teaching millions of Catholics to do the same in their lives.

The Catholic Church has always been supportive of those who work, and recognizes the need for labor unions.

In the first place, the worker must be paid a wage sufficient to support him and his family.  — Pope Pius XI, 1931

Yet the workers’ rights cannot be doomed to be the mere result of economic systems aimed at maximum profits. The thing that must shape the whole economy is respect for the workers’ rights within each country and all through the world’s economy. — Pope John Paul II, 1981

Pope after Pope has rejected the idea that companies should put profits over people. In fact, “the dignity of work and the rights of workers” is one of the Church’s fundamental teachings.

Contrast that with what Mitt Romney did as a vulture capitalist: selling companies and jobs overseas, and raking in millions of dollars at the same time.

Paul Ryan received the most flak as a Catholic.  There is an old saying, show me your budget and I will show you what you value.  This was exactly the case when you look at the budget pushed by the Romney/Ryan campaign.  The Ryan plan was torn apart by Catholics throughout the country.

This budget, frankly, acts like a schoolyard bully. It kicks those who are already down. It punches holes in vital social safety net programs, including food assistance for struggling families. It shoves aside the Medicare guarantee for seniors who deserve quality health care. It tramples Medicaid for low-income Americans by proposing inadequate state block grants at a time when most states are barely able to pay their bills.

For good reason, Ryan’s proposals have been strongly criticized by social justice leaders, evangelicals and many Catholics. Why? Because we know that budgets reflect stark moral choices about our priorities and values. (Public Theology)

The Ryan plan even pushed a group of Catholic nuns to travel around the country telling people that the Ryan plan was against what the Catholic Church preaches.  After a few stops, Sister Simone Campbell and her group were aptly named ‘the nuns on a bus’.

“Paul Ryan claims this budget reflects the principles of our shared faith,” Campbell said, as she took direct aim at Mitt Romney’s running mate, who has often cited his Catholic faith as the underpinning of his fiscal policies. “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,” she said. (On Faith, Washington Post)

Catholics throughout the country rejected the GOP budget and rejected Paul Ryan for his part in creating it.  And yet the RNC wonders why Catholic Latinos are not lining up to join the Grand Ole Party.

 

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