Sister Simone in 2012 with "Nuns on the Bus"
October 22, 1945
Santa Monica, California
|Alma mater||Mount St. Mary's College
UC Davis School of Law
Early life and education
When Campbell was born in Santa Monica, California, to parents who had recently moved from Colorado, she was given the first name "Mary" in honor of her paternal grandmother. She was the eldest of four siblings. She joined the Sisters of Social Service, an international Roman Catholic religious congregation rooted in the Benedictine tradition, in 1964 and took her final vows in 1973, adopting the name "Simone." She received a bachelor’s degree in 1969 from Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles.
In 1978 Campbell founded the Community Law Center in Oakland, California, which she served for the next 18 years as its lead attorney. She practiced family law and worked on the needs of the working poor of her county in Probate Court.
Campbell was first recruited to lead NETWORK in 2004 and continues to serve as its executive director.
In March 2010, the United States Congress debated reforms to healthcare, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H. R. 3590). As a part of her work with NETWORK, Campbell wrote the "nuns' letter" supporting the reforms and asked leaders of women's religious orders to sign it. Sixty heads of religious orders and umbrella groups signed and the letter was sent to all members of Congress. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the official voice of the Catholic Church in the United States, did not support the healthcare reforms. The letter contributed to the momentum in favor of the legislation. Campbell attended the signing ceremony for the law and received a hug of gratitude from President Obama.
Campbell led the Nuns on the Bus project, in which she also participated. Campbell and a small group of religious sisters (commonly, "nuns") make tours on a dedicated bus to highlight social issues. In 2012, the first year of the project, the Nuns aimed to draw attention to nuns’ work with the poor and to protest planned aid cuts. In honor of her advocacy work she was the 2014 recipient of the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, which commemorates the 1963 encyclical of Saint John XXIII of the same name.
Campbell addressed the Democratic National Convention held in September 2012.
The Vatican has rebuked Simone Campbell for her "radical feminist views" including her support for abortion rights, which the Catholic Church considers a grave offense with penalties including but not limited to excommunication, stating in July 2016 in response to the speech by Planned Parenthood's President at the 2016 Democratic Convention:
"From my perspective, I don’t think it’s a good policy to outlaw abortion. I think, rather, let’s focus on economic development for women and economic opportunity. That’s what really makes the change."
Sister Campbell also supported drafts of the Affordable Care Act which included pro-abortion language which conflicted with the goals of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, further straining her ties with the Church.
- Sister Simone Campbell; David Gibson (2014). A nun on the bus: how all of us can create hope, change, and community. New York, NY: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0062273543.
- Campbell, Simone (2014). A Nun on the Bus.p. 1
- "Simone Campbell, SSS". Network.
- "Our Ministries". Sisters of Social Service.
- "Simone Campbell - How to Be Spiritually Bold". On Being with Krista Tippett. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
- Boorstein, Michelle (2010-03-18). "Dissent among Catholics seen as nuns' groups back health bill". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- Landsberg, Mitchell (2010-03-18). "Nuns in U.S. back healthcare bill despite Catholic bishops' opposition". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- Anderssen, Erin (2010-03-26). "Sisters' Obamacare Lobby Second to Nun: Nuns say Catholic bishops’ blustered on abortions". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- Campbell, Sister Simone, SSS (June 7, 2013). "New Orleans, LA - Site Visit". Network: Nuns on the Bus.
- Linda Cook (2014-09-22). "'Nuns on the Bus' leader receives peace award". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2014-09-22.
- A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community Simone Campbell, Author
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