Can You Tell Us More About Nuns on the Bus?

Q: I am so glad the “nuns on the bus” are going through the country. Why can’t the majority of people see what awful things the Republicans are doing to the poor, women, and wage earners?

The “Nuns on the Bus” are a project of NETWORK, which describes itself as a “National Catholic Social Justice Lobby” and was founded by Roman Catholic religious women working for economic and social justice. They have done excellent work on behalf of the poor since the 1970s. While you may support their advocacy, keep in mind this tidbit of bumper sticker wisdom: “God is not a Republican… or a Democrat.” Catholic teaching on the issues the nuns address may seem quite clear. But reasonable people of good will can disagree on which policies best promote that teaching, especially on complex questions such as immigration and health care reform. Today’s Republican-controlled Congress bears the fault for some current atrocities, such as recent cuts to food stamps. But Democrats also sometimes advocate policies that violate our Catholic sense of justice. As to why people don’t see the struggles of the working poor and the disadvantaged in our midst, consider Luke 16:19-31. This classic parable of the rich man and the beggar at his gate ends with the rich man suffering in eternity while the beggar Lazarus rests in the bosom of Abraham. But nothing in the story asserts that the rich man ever actually sees Lazarus in his earthly life. How many of us also refuse to see? We are increasingly able to surround ourselves with people just like us, and many of us truly do not see the struggles of the working poor and the disadvantaged in our midst. If you’re especially troubled by that disconnect, I encourage you to get involved. Bring your energy and your concern to any organization that helps bridge that gap between the haves and have-nots. The nuns on the bus will be proud of you.

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.