We Heart: Radical Feminist Nun on Colbert Report

Catholic clergy have been pretty tough on American nuns lately, accusing them of “radical feminism.” As Ms. reports in our brand-new issue, the Vatican has issued a doctrinal assessment criticizing the nuns for aiding the poor and needy instead of spreading anti-abortion and anti-gay doctrine.

But the sisters have just met their harshest critic: Stephen Colbert (or at least, his ultra-right-wing comedic persona). Sister Simone Campbell stopped by The Colbert Report Monday night to explain why radical feminism might not be such a bad thing.

Sister Campbell serves as the executive director of NETWORK, a progressive social justice institute made up of Catholic nuns and lay people that was specifically targeted in the Vatican report for spending too little time fighting, in Colbert’s words, “the gay agenda.” NETWORK members, along with other nuns, will be setting off on a bus tour June 18 to call for support of Obama’s Affordable Care Act and its no co-pay contraception mandate. The tour will, in a very “radical feminist” way, counter the bishops’ upcoming Fortnight for Freedom—a 14-day period of prayer to challenge the contraception requirement.

Colbert and the Vatican might think that Campbell and her fellow religious sisters have “gone rogue,” but according to Campbell: “We’re certainly oriented toward the needs of women and responding to their needs. If that’s radical, I guess we are.”

Campbell proceeded to school Colbert on the surest ways to enter the kingdom of heaven (hint: not by amassing wealth).

Meanwhile, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious–which represents 80 percent of American nuns–meets with the Vatican on Tuesday to address the Vatican’s concerns about American nuns and their work. While preferring to ultimately reconcile with the Church hierarchy, the LCWR has made it clear that it is determined to fight these “unsubstantiated accusations.” As John Allen, Vatican specialist, reported, “Neither side is prepared to budge.”


  1. Julietkambwiri says:

    I raise no objection in what the Nuns want to start to be practical in our christian teaching.As a catholic we need to reach to the poor and share what as a Church has rather than be theoretical in our Churches

    • Julietkambwiri says:

      Iam repeating what i have said above that the initiative is hailed and are looking forward to the conference.As a lay staunch Catholic long to participate in the Conference as long as you find me a sponsor who can buy me an airticket from Malawi Lilongwe phone no.+265884000821

  2. Michelle says:

    This lady may be awesome but I can’t quite see how you can be a rad fem and a nun lol. The two just don’t quite go together. Plus, if you’re “radical”, you’re not supporting Obama per say. But hey, she rocks!

    • Mandela Nelson says:

      Well I happen to know some nuns and they are all Liberal as they come. I have a picture of my friend Sister Mary Charity with Joe Biden kneeling down in front of her! If you know anything about Pope John Paul II’s reformation in the 70’s, it kind of explains their change from the nuns in habits slapping school children with rulers stereotype. Also, if you have ever read what Jesus said in the Bible, it is clearly the nuns who are doing what Jesus preached. For example, I used to live across from a wealthy parish in South Saint Louis and the Priests had straight up luxury like personal chefs, whereas the nuns take a vow of poverty and live simply. I know 4 who share 1 car. If you look at the difference between the life stories and leadership of Pope John Paul and current benedict, who was a former nazi– I am not calling him names I mean he is a real bona fide card carrying member of the nazi party run by adolph, the contrast is stark. Especially with regard to women’s rights. And, the Pope should know that you do not mess with nuns. I wonder if the Virgin Mother is a vengeful as God?

  3. She’s 10 kinds of awesome.

  4. Kim Detorez says:

    One can be a rad fem and a nun also. Just as my father created all xx chromosome babies and is 90 % radfem because of us.He understands how patriachal policies have held back women and hurt us aswell.
    His activism in feminizing school ciriculum has helped young women excel in the public school system.

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