Mercyhurst University in Erie, Penn., will honor Sister Simone Campbell with the Archbishop Oscar Romero Award, according to the University’s website.
In a press release, Mercyhurst specifically cites Sr. Campbell's authorship of the “'nuns' letter' that helped pass the Affordable Care Act.”
“During the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, she wrote the famous nuns’ letter supporting the reform bill and got 59 leaders of Catholic Sisters to sign on,” the University says. “This action was cited by many as critically important in passing the Affordable Care Act.”
While the University lauds this, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has long championed universal access to health care, repeatedly raised concerns that the law compels people to pay for abortion coverage.
The award will be presented at Mercyhurst on March 26 and Sr. Campbell will talk about “Peace and Justice in the U.S.” The University states that the Romero Award is given for "living the call of faith and justice in an extraordinary manner."
In response to the Vatican’s investigation into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Sr. Campbell responded defiantly in a National Public Radio interview, claiming the Vatican “doesn’t know how to deal with strong women” and dismissed the Congregation’s doctrinal concerns:
They're big issues, but they aren't at the heart of faith. That's the problem. And what we do as women religious is, we minister to people everywhere who are suffering, who are being discriminated against, and we don't ask to see a baptismal certificate. We serve everyone we find, in keeping with the Gospel of Jesus. That's what we're doing.
The bishops have a different mandate and a different message. And they are trying to protect the institution and to worry mostly—apparently—about an orthodoxy that I can't quite understand. But our different missions still - serves one faith.
At the 2012 Democrat National Convention, Sr. Campbell infamously responded to a question about whether abortion should be legal by declaring, “That’s beyond my pay grade. I don’t know.”
Some past recipients of the Mercyhurst award include Fr. John Dear, who was recently ousted from the Jesuit order for being “obstinately disobedient,” and Fr. Daniel Berrigan, who spent some time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for making homemade napalm and destroying federal property.
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