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Nuns On The Bus Rally In Columbus
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A group of nuns protesting cuts to federal programs for the poor and working families made a stop in Columbus Monday afternoon. Nuns on the Bus visited the office of Congressman Pat Tiberi to discuss cuts to federal social service programs.
Several dozen supporters greet the sisters on the tour with thank yous and hugs.
The Catholic Sisters are in the middle of a 15-day trip to nine different states. The group, organized by NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, began in Iowa and is traveling through the Great Lakes states, ending their tour in Washington, D.C.
The nuns are speaking out against budget cuts proposed by U.S. Representative Paul Ryan. The budget, which passed the U.S. House this spring, slashed funds to programs such as Medicaid and food stamps.
This budget is not likely to go anywhere, as U.S. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated he will not bring up this bill in the Senate.
But the nuns hope to generate a national discussion. Their slogan is: â€œReasonable revenue for responsible programs.â€
Sister Simone Campbell, who leads NETWORK, talked with some of Congressman Pat Tiberiâ€™s staffers. The congressman was not present for the meeting.
While Campbell said she was pleased with the dialogue, she said she still feels like some Republicans are out of touch with the struggles of the poor and middle class.
â€œIt appears to me the Congressman needs to walk with us, with the people we walk with and serve, because every time we brought up a story he said, no, no, those arenâ€™t the people weâ€™re targeting. But who are you targeting? Because it seems pretty clear in the black and white of the budget thatâ€™s the result of what you said. So I think we have the beginning of a conversation, but this is what our nation needs,” Campbell said.
Congressman Tiberi spokeswoman, Breann Gonzalez, said the representative welcomes any discussion, but she said he is perplexed as to why the group has not joined Catholic Bishops to support the Rights of Conscience.
â€œTheyâ€™re quite concerned that President Obamaâ€™s health care bill will in fact infringe on their rights of conscience. And Congressman Tiberi finds it kind of ironic that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is pushing this right now, yet these nuns, or this group, is focused on advocating for a bill that has already passed the House that is going nowhere in the Senate,” Gonzalez said.
Sister Campbell, who told the crowd her friend died after a lack of access to health insurance, addressed why the group is focused on social service programs.
â€œI feel desperate for Margaret, and for all the Margarets who are dying because they donâ€™t have health care. That is a life issue. Itâ€™s as much of a life issue as the issue of abortion.â€
The nuns will be in Cleveland Tuesday and in Youngstown on Wednesday.