Sister Simone Campbell of ‘Nuns on the Bus’ Leaves $100K Job — But Abortion is Still ‘Above Her Pay Grade’

The Sister of Social Service retires from her post leading the “Catholic social justice lobby” that often vocally criticized the U.S. bishops for their stance against abortion and gender ideology.

In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Sister Simone Campbell addresses the virtual convention on Aug. 20, 2020.
In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Sister Simone Campbell addresses the virtual convention on Aug. 20, 2020. (photo: DNC/Getty Images)

Sister Simone Campbell, the 74-year-old leader of “Nuns on the Bus,” retired last month as executive director of Network, which bills itself as a “Catholic social justice lobby.”

But don’t expect her to retire quietly to her Sisters of Social Service chapel in California any time soon, for the sister who was dubbed a “rock star” by the secular media for publicly defying the U.S. bishops is giving every indication she will continue her activism.

“My life is politics,” she told America magazine.

“I’m sure that the Spirit will lead me to some other form of mischief,” she assured U.S. Catholic.

And she vowed to continue to “seek fairness, justice and equity for the least among us,” according to Religion News Service.

Notably, those “least among us” never have included the hundreds of thousands of unborn children aborted every year, a towering omission from longstanding Catholic social and moral teaching. When she was pinned down by Catholic News Agency about why the unborn were ignored in her agenda, she said, “[Abortion] is above my pay grade. It’s not the issue that we work on. I’m a lawyer. I would have to study it more intensely than I have.”

Speaking of pay grades, Sister Simone’s annual salary reached $100,000+ in 2019, according to  Network’s 2019 tax return. More than half of that salary was paid by Network’s “related organizations,” which were not named on the 990 tax form.

Sister Simone had cozied up to several left-wing organizations and the Democratic Party during her 16-year tenure overseeing Network’s $1 million-dollar budget, and she even postponed her retirement when — much to her disappointment — Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

That loyalty earned her a retirement letter from President Joe Biden — arguably the most pro-abortion president in the history of our country — in which he thanked her for her “support and friendship.” 

In turn, Sister Simone felt qualified to proclaim that Biden had “a very developed approach” to abortion, even though five months earlier she said she had not have studied the issue well.

Of course, Sister Simone’s Democratic political roots go back a decade, for she gained notoriety in 2010 by leading the successful effort to convince Catholic Congress members to support the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) in spite of the U.S. bishops’ warning that the bill lacked conscience projections and would fund abortion. 

The last decade of lawsuits and subsequent court decisions on Obamacare have proven the bishops to be right — a fact Sister Simone consistentlydenies as she goes about painting the Catholic Church’s moral tradition as a burden and barrier to troubled or marginalized people, rather than the guide and support it actually provides all people.

For example, she is supporting the so-called Equality Act, a bill opposed by the U.S. bishops. In a Feb. 23 letter to the House of Representatives, five bishops who are chairmen of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committees wrote that the Equality Act would, among other things, punish faith-based charities and organizations and trample on conscience rights on the altar of gender ideology.

Sister Simone attacked the bishops’ position on WRCB-TV last month, saying, “I found it shockingly harsh and not at all in keeping with what Jesus and the Gospels are about. ... It is the antithesis of the teaching of Pope Francis, who says we should ground our policies in the experience of those at the margins of society.”

Likewise, last month she signed onto an open letter organized by the religious-left organizations Faithful America and Faith in Public Life, calling for Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, to be removed from his chairmanship of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities. His offense was that he dared to tell Catholic World Report:

“The president should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic, and acknowledge that his view on abortion is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. ...

“When he says he is a devout Catholic, we bishops have the responsibility to correct him. Although people have given this president power and authority, he cannot define what it is to be a Catholic and what Catholic moral teaching is.”

Again, Sister Simone could be counted on to correct the bishop, telling Independent Catholic News:

“I know President Biden is a man of faith. ... He not only studies Catholic social teaching, but also strives to live it in his actions. No one, even a bishop, should attack a fellow Christian or disparage that Christian’s faith.”

So, like the president, Sister Simone continues to proclaim her own version of Catholic teaching, even presuming to interpret the words of Pope Francis and Jesus himself, while hiding behind the disguise of social justice.

Consequently, she has become the go-to religious sister for media looking for a “Catholic” voice to counter the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.

Her rationale for this distorted moral reasoning was explained in a published report this way: “Campbell said politicians and voters — after informing their consciences — need to make ‘prudential judgments’ about how to apply the church’s teaching to politics. So do sisters.”

Obviously, Sister Simone enjoys her “rock star” status, as well as the public persona of being a vowed religious, even claiming at times that she speaks for the majority of Catholic sisters. However, she seems to have little regard for the duties of a vowed religious that are set out in the Church’s Code of Canon Law.

One of those duties (Canon 678) is for religious men and women to be “subject to the authority of bishops” in matters that involve the care of souls, the public exercise of divine worship and works of the apostolate.

Thus, this question looms large: Why are Sister Simone’s religious superiors and other Church authorities allowing her to mislead souls and reject the authority of bishops as she vows to continue practicing her “mischief?”