NETWORK

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NETWORK is a Roman Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, D.C.[1][2]

History[edit]

NETWORK was founded in December 1971 when 47 Catholic Sisters involved in education, healthcare, and other direct service activities gathered from across the U.S. at Trinity College in Washington, D.C. , with the intent to form a new type of justice ministry. This was a time when the Catholic Church was undergoing dramatic changes in response to Vatican II reforms and calls from the Vatican and U.S. Bishops to seek "Justice in the World". Individual women religious had already become involved in the civil rights movement, feminism and anti-war activism.[3]

The 47 Sisters voted to form a national "network" of Sisters to lobby for federal policies and legislation that promote economic and social justice. This was the founding of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. In April 1972 they opened a two-person office in Washington, D.C.[3]

During the 1970s, NETWORK's first home and staff residence served as a center for Washington-area Catholic peace and justice activism. Their Saturday-night liturgies drew activists from throughout the Washington region and beyond. Their justice agenda ranged from global hunger to nuclear weapons and women’s rights. They also conducted legislative seminars that drew hundreds of participants and presenters who included prominent Members of Congress (e.g., Senators Ted Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson, Barbara Mikulski, Walter Mondale and Joseph Biden) and Catholic notables such as Fr. Bryan Hehir.[3]

In January 2001, President Bill Clinton presented the Presidential Citizens Medal, the US's second highest civilian honor, to a NETWORK founder and first Executive Director, Sister Carol Coston. She was the first Catholic Sister ever to receive this award.

US health care debate[edit]

During the 2010 healthcare reform debate, lawyer and the executive director of NETWORK, Simone Campbell a member of the Sisters of Social Service,[1][2] wrote the "nuns' letter" supporting the bill. The letter had 55 signatories, including the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and several leadership teams of women’s orders.

On March 18, 2010 Sr. Simone Campbell was interviewed by NPR about NETWORK's support of the then pending US national health care bill, when she, along with "heads of dozens of religious orders"[4] signed a letter to congress urging passage. NETWORK circulated the letter to the various heads of the orders and asked them to sign.[4] Ann Carey, author of Sister in Crisis, takes issue with the claim that those signing the letter represented over 50,000 religious sisters. Said Carey, "I have heard from many women religious who asked me to make it clear in my writing that such sisters do not represent them, and those prominent sisters have no right to speak for all sisters." [5]

President Barack Obama invited Campbell to the ceremony celebrating its being signed into law. The NETWORK group was credited with being a significant force in the passage of the bill into law.[6]

Current status[edit]

NETWORK's mission is to be "a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace."[citation needed]

The group is also involved in the issues of: peacemaking, immigration reform, housing, poverty, federal budget priorities, trade, healthcare, retirement security, hunger, wage equity, and fair trade.

Nuns on the Bus[edit]

Main article: Nuns on the Bus

NETWORK sponsors Nuns on the Bus. Led by Sister Simone Campbell, they place emphasis on the church’s long-standing commitment to social justice. A small group of nuns travel on a dedicated bus inside the United States publicizing different issues. In 2012, the Nuns aimed to draw attention to nuns’ work with the poor and to protest against planned aid cuts.

In 2013, the NETWORK partnered with self-described "strategy center" "Faith in Public Life" to promote the theme of immigration reform. FPL was founded in 2005 "to advance a positive alternative" after "decades of political dominance by the Religious Right". FPL "played an integral role in planning and executing the 'Nuns on the Border' bus tour".[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Goodstein, Laurie (5 June 2012). "Nuns, Rebuked by Rome, Plan Road Trip to Spotlight Social Issues". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Castellanos, Dalina (17 May 2012). "Catholics all a-Twitter about the role of nuns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "History", Network
  4. ^ a b Martin, Michel (March 18, 2010). "American Nuns Out In Force To Support Health Bill". NPR News (Tell Me More) (NPR). Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Harmon, Catherine. "Women Religious in the U.S.: The Past Fifty Years", The Catholic world Report, July 9, 2013
  6. ^ Anderssen, Erin (March 26, 2010). "Sisters' Obamacare Lobby Second to Nun: Nuns say Catholic bishops’ blustered on abortions". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
  7. ^ "2013– Hitting the road with the Nuns on the Bus", Faith in Public Life

External links[edit]