(RNS) Disturbed by the language of exclusion that has characterized much of the 2016 electoral campaign, Sister Simone Campbell and a band of Catholic nuns will again board her bus to promote a vision of a more inclusive America.
The activist nun and 18 other sisters will begin their trip on July 11 in Janesville, Wis., hometown of House Speaker and Republican leader Paul Ryan, a fellow Catholic whose conservative policies Campbell has regularly criticized.
The bus tour, the latest in a series of election-year trips organized by Campbell’s Washington-based lobby, Network, will eventually travel to 13 states, making stops at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in mid-July and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later in the month.
“Pope Francis challenges all people to come together to work for the common good,” said Campbell, executive director of Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, which launched the first Nuns on the Bus tour during the 2012 presidential campaign.
“On our journey as Nuns on the Bus we will talk to those Pope Francis voters and, hopefully, inspire them to make mending the gaps the defining issue of the 2016 election," she said of the rifts she sees growing among Americans.
"We will also talk to the voters who are driven more by a sense of alienation. We believe that we can touch that fear by listening to their concern. This may help people find something to believe in that is bigger than themselves. We know we all do better when we build community by supporting one another.”
The sisters say they are most concerned about disparities in income and opportunity, and are lobbying for tax reform, living wages and family-friendly workplaces.
Campbell, who is an attorney as well as a member of the Sisters of Social Service religious order, created a sensation with her first bus tour in 2012. She appeared on news shows and “The Colbert Report” and was a prime-time speaker at the Democratic National Convention. She re-boarded the bus again to promote immigration reform in 2014.
Though she has not specifically billed the upcoming tour as a protest against presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has been lambasted for stereotyping Muslims, Hispanics and other groups, Campbell has in the past called out politicians by name for neglecting the poor and disadvantaged.