"We cannot be couch potatoes," said Sister Simone Campbell, SSS to dozens of people gathered at a busy intersection in downtown Buffalo. It was part of her 'Nuns on the Bus' tour which stopped briefly, Wednesday morning, at St Paul's Episcopal Church.
The tour began July 11 and is working its way through 13 states in an effort to speak with voters about the issues of concern this election year. The tour went through Cleveland during the Republican National Convention and will make its way through Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention.
"We're not about the candidate," said Sister Simone, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, "We're about the people and we know that leadership comes from the people. We're the ones that can put pressure on our politicians to make change. That's how democracy works."
NETWORK was founded by Catholic sisters in 1972 to advocate for economic and social justice. "It was because of the anger and the hate-speech that we got together and said we have to everything we can to try and mend our society," said Sister Simone. "We're tearing holes in our society by anger and blame and this individualism that just says 'I've got mine and too bad for anybody else."
Those in attendance were asked to sign the side of the bus pledging their support for tax justice, living wages, family friendly workplaces, access to healthcare, access to citizenship, access to housing. "We're for the 100%," said Sister Simone. "No one should be discriminated against because of the color of their skin, everyone needs to have access to good jobs. No one should be suspected of shoplifting just because you have darker skin. We the people are better than that, and we the people need each other."
St Paul's Episcopal Church was chosen as the location of the Buffalo stop because the Homeless Jesus statue in Cathedral Park represents much of what www.nunsonthebus.org is trying to bring attention to. Congressman Brian Higgins, a democrat who represents the 26th Congressional district in Buffalo, thanked the Nuns on Bus movement. "Your work is a gift of time," said Higgins. "It's a gift of commitment and everyday you're making positive changes for the people of this community and all of our communities."