Over on the Laetificat blog, Elizabeth does some digging into the over-hyped (and now concluded) “Nuns on the Bus” tour:
After going to see the Nuns on the Bus in Janesville, WI, I found on facebook a video the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters had recorded of Sr Simone Campbell earlier the same day, in which Sr Simone described candidly that “we asked for help in DC, and our colleagues, all the big players, they came together and helped us brainstorm this.” Certainly made me wonder who were “the big players” in DC that helped make this happen. Well, we can now verify one of them: Faith in Public Life, the George Soros-funded, Center for American Progress-associated political progressive organization that is also engaging in a media campaign against the Fortnight for Freedom, as shown in this recent Advisory Memo to Journalists from the USCCB. Among other efforts, they put out talking points to try to get journalists to politicize the Fortnight for Freedom and trip up bishops — see also Fr Z’s coverage and commentary of the Advisory Memo. …
When I met up with the Nuns on the Bus in Janesville, Casey accompanied Sr Simone closely and her media role was obvious. As I queried Sr Simone about her views on the HHS Mandate and the Fortnight for Freedom while she walked back toward the bus following the brief press conference, and she mainly only reiterated, as described above, that “it’s complicated”, Casey was also responding to me, for instance insistently correcting my perception of something eyebrow-raising I thought I heard Sr Simone say and hurrying Sr Simone away from me. The photo at the top of this post shows Casey accompanying Sr Simone to where CNN had set up for an interview.
So what is “Faith in Public Life”? It’s bad news, and certainly does not have Catholic concerns faithfully at heart. As Sr Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB quoted from this page that has all the details, they are “a group founded with help from a pro-abortion group long directed by John Podesta called the Center for American Progress. . . (CAP); like the CAP it has received funding . . . from billionaire atheist George Soros. . . . ”
Fans, mostly female and gray-haired, assemble at the stops in small, happy knots. The Traveling Sisterhood of NETWORK Executive Director Sr. Simone Campbell and Sr. Diane Donoghue, both Sisters of Social Service, get off the bus with the guest sisters and supporters for the day. The media who bother to show up file fluff stories lauding the sisters as “irrepressible” (Mother Jones said “sassy”) — at once adorable and venerable, speaking truth to power.
If the powerful aren’t particularly listening, that might be because the Nun Bus hasn’t bothered to let them know they’re coming. The “press conference” I attended on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square — really a rally — was billed on the Nuns on the Bus schedule as taking place at Congressman Steve Chabot’s local office. But as it took place on Sunday afternoon and in a public plaza, he wasn’t there. When I called late Friday afternoon to see how his office planned to respond, his local communications director told me my call was “the first we’ve heard about it.” Likewise, when I called Speaker of the House John Boehner’s local office Monday morning about the 10 am stop planned there, his communications director told me they had been contacted about the visit just minutes before.
As Finke ably demonstrates, the entire charade was yet another example of aging, progressive “Catholics” desperately trying to undermine the teaching authority of the Church while cheerleading for yet even more statism. Yet it is the sort of publicity stunt that plays well to those who hanker for media-manufactured political posturing, as even the Washington Post admitted in a June 27th piece:
The national attention being focused on a bus tooling across the Midwest with five nuns aboard says everything about the United States’ charged political climate. It wraps up gender, partisanship, religion and health care, all things that make a sexy story inside the Beltway these days.
Of course, what is “sexy” inside the Beltway is rarely what is essential for ordinary people in the real world or for a vibrant civilization of love and truth. It’s yet another classic case of image vs. reality, of publicity stunts vs. the public good. Expect more of the same—much more—in the months to come.