BY ISN STAFF | August 21, 2020
On the final evening of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Catholic leaders Fr. James Martin, S.J., editor at large at America Media, and Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., the executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, delivered prayers to open and close the proceedings. Many Catholic leaders have spoken or prayed at both Democratic and Republican national conventions, including Fr. Edward Reese, S.J., a Jesuit priest who gave the opening invocation at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Fr. Martin is a Jesuit priest, author, and editor at large at America, the national Catholic magazine operated by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). His most recent book is titled Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity. He is a frequent commentator in the media about issues of religion and spirituality and is known for his appearances on The Colbert Report and his robust social media presence.
Fr. Martin has established himself as a powerful voice for justice. He is a sought-after speaker at parishes and institutions across the U.S. on LGBT inclusion in the Catholic Church. He utilizes his significant online reach as an advocate on behalf of those who migrate, contributing to the Catholic Church’s work to build a culture of care and compassion that upholds the dignity of all immigrants and refugees. Fr. Martin has served as a keynote speaker and breakout presenter at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, and was a 2019 recipient of ISN’s Robert M. Holstein Faith Doing Justice Award.
Fr. Martin’s benediction from the final night of the Democratic National Convention:
Open our hearts to those most in need:
The unemployed parent worried about feeding his or her children.
The woman who is underpaid, harassed or abused.
The Black man or woman who fear for their lives.
The immigrant at the border, longing for safety.
The homeless person looking for a meal.
The LGBT teen who is bullied.
The unborn child in the womb.
The inmate on death row.
Help us to be a nation where
every life is sacred,
all people are loved,
and all are welcome.
Sr. Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice—a federal advocacy organization founded by Catholic Sisters to lobby in Washington, D.C. for policies that mend the gaps in income and wealth in the United States. She has led six cross-country “Nuns on the Bus” trips focused on tax justice, healthcare, economic justice, comprehensive immigration reform, voter turnout, bridging divides in politics and society, and mending the gaps. Sr. Campbell wrote the famous “Nuns’ Letter,” considered by many as critically important in convincing Congress to support the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and is the author of A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community, published by HarperCollins. She has received numerous awards, spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and has appeared on 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She is a religious leader, attorney, and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. Sr. Campbell has spoken at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice and is a 2020 recipient of ISN’s Robert M. Holstein Faith Doing Justice Award, to be presented in September 2020 at the virtual event, Ignite: A Celebration of Justice.
Sr. Cambell’s prayer from the final night of the Democratic National Convention:
I’m Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and leader of Nuns on the Bus.
Tonight marks an important next chapter in our story of who we will become as a nation. So I speak to you with a sense of urgency and hope, knowing the difficult work ahead, grounded in my faith.
The very first paragraph of the Scripture that informs the three Abrahamic traditions tells us: The Divine Spirit breathed over the waters of chaos and brought forth a new creation. Encouraged by this promise that a new creation can come from chaos, let us pray:
O Divine Spirit!
During the weeks and months ahead, stir our hearts and minds that we might fight for a vision that is worthy of you and your call to honor the dignity of all of your creation.
A vision of who we are as a people, grounded in community and care for all, especially the most marginalized.
A vision that cares for our earth and heals the planet.
A vision that ends structural racism, bigotry, and sexism so rife now in our nation and in our history.
A vision that ensures hungry people are fed, children are nourished, immigrants are welcomed.
O Spirit, breathe in us and our leaders a new resolve…that committed to this new American promise, we will work together to build a national community grounded in healing, fearlessly based on truth, and living out of a sense of shared responsibility.
In the name of all that is holy, O Spirit, bring out of this time of global and national chaos a new creation, a new community that can, with your help, realize this new promise that we affirm tonight.
With profound hope, let we the people say: Amen!