Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sister Simone Campbell

I heard Simone Campbell S.S.S. speak 26 July 2007 at Borromeo seminary outside Cleveland. She was speaking on catholic social teaching. She mentioned four moments from the New Testament:

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The Calling of Saint Matthew c.1600. Contarelli Chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.

And when Jesus passed on from hence, he saw a man sitting in the custom house, named Matthew; and he saith to him: Follow me. And he rose up and followed him. — Matthew ix. 9

  1. Matthew being called by Jesus (the night before, the local PBS station telecast Simon Schama’s program on Caravaggio)
  2. The believing centurion, who requested Jesus to heal his sick child
  3. The Samaritan woman at the well, an outcast, who Jesus asked for aid
  4. Pentecost, where the Spirit came to the apostles, so that, they could be heard, in different tongues
And, also, Isaias, who, taught us to:
  1. bring glad tidings to the poor
  2. bring sight to the blind
  3. set the captives free
  4. bring freedom to the oppressed
These biblical moments are the examples and goals of a christian people to do the work of God upon earth. To side with the poor and the outcast, be one with them, all men helping each other with the love of God and to listen when He calls and freely and bravely to do so.

She lobbies Congress for Network, a Catholic social justice organization. The two biggest issues, now, are Iraq and immigration. There she achieves few victories. She mentioned several books to read for better appreciation of the political situation, and she read her poems. She believes, and as a former lawyer, she advocates with words and arguments what her
faith demands.

Sister Campbell contrasted “the war on terror
to Pentecost's leaving fear. She contrasted, our dear, sainted, departed John Paul II with the american public. The Holy Father, always and firmly, was against preventative war. You should remember how many times he quoted scripture, Do not be afraid. Whereas, here in the US, it is a desperate victimhood, where anything is permitted in supposed defense.

Part of her lobbying is to convince the Congress to invest in the Iraqui people and not in corporations. It is tough sledding. Few in Congress let Jesus touch their hearts, and their staffs run interference to make sure.

Sister Campbell mentioned four, who listened, cared and wanted to do the right thing. In the Senate, the Republican senator from Indiana, Richard Lugar, who we see in the news making noises to do right, but still doesn’t, or at least hasn’t broken from Bush, and Joseph Biden of Delaware. In the House, North Carolina’s Walter Jones, a recent convert to the one, true church, and Maryland’s Wayne Gilchrest.

Mr. Biden’s acknowledges his enthusiasm for the active Catholic social faith he always had. There is an article in the Christian Science Monitor that details him. As president, America would righten its course a great deal with him in office.

Now, the two house members are endangered in their own parties. Gilchrest, the rare moderate to liberal in his party, and the conservative, former Democrat, Jones are facing primary election challenges. They are among the less than a handful in the house who vote against Bush and did so when they were in the majority. Such voting of conscience is greatly frowned upon amongst the rank and file of Republicans, their leaders and primary voters. Politicians always look to the next election, and these two men may not be there after 2008.

To be true to Jesus and your brother man or to be elected is a dilemma. One chooses to be a follower of Christ or a follower to the baser moral and social elements of societal power.
post scriptum: Wayne Gilchrest lost in the February 12th primary.
Two days later, Gilchrest, Jones and Ron Paul were the only Republican representatives to vote in defense of the Constitution and voted to hold Bolten and Miers in contempt.

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