NPR Offers 14 Minutes to Paul Ryan-Bashing Nun and Vatican-Correcting Priest

National "Public" Radio has barely touched on the 43 Catholic organizations that filed lawsuits against the Obama administration, but it continues to be a noisy sounding board for leftist nuns and their supporters. On Friday, NPR offered more than 14 minutes of air time to the left-wing forces.

On the afternoon talk show Tell Me More, NPR devoted nine minutes and 47 seconds to a segment they titled "Born to Be Wild: Catholic Nuns Hit the Road." These "wild" nuns were celebrated for opposing the Paul Ryan budget with a bus tour. Once again, NPR's honored guest was Sister Simone Campbell of Network, the "social justice lobby." Martin asked Sister to get out a club (or a ruler?) and whack Ryan:

MARTIN: One of the leaders on the House budget side, Representative Paul Ryan, cited his Catholic faith to justify the cuts that he proposed and I wondered whether that statement was, in part, a motivation for this, that you wanted to lift up a different vision of what you feel Catholic faith calls people to do.

CAMPBELL: Oh, you're absolutely right. I think, if Congressman Ryan hadn't mentioned his faith, I don't know if we would come up with this idea, but the fact that he was claiming - it's an outrageous claim in my view that the Catholic faith, that is all about serving the poor, validates his budget, which does nothing but decimate services to the poor, provides further tax cuts for the wealthy and then he claims that this is going to help balance our budget when it actually makes it worse.

That combination of misstatements was an outrage to us and we thought, we need to illustrate the problem because people outside the beltway don't know.

MARTIN: We're speaking with Sister Simone Campbell. She and about a dozen other nuns are going on a bus tour to focus on poverty. She heads Network. It's a social justice lobby.

But the tour, Sister, also comes at a time when the criticism of the Vatican is that the sisters are placing too much emphasis on poverty and, in their view, not providing enough of a commentary on issues such as abortion. And it also comes at a time when the bishops are strongly opposing a component of the Obama Administration's health care initiative, that component which requires most institutions to provide contraception as part of their health care coverage. And so the two are being, sort of, seen as in opposition to each other. Do you see it that way, or as kind of a -- as a rebuke to that or to stand in contrast to that? Do you see it that way?

CAMPBELL: Well, we're not doing it in an oppositional fashion. The fact is, here in Washington, we're a political organization. We apply our faith to politics and the fact is the budget process is going forward and we've got to get the word out, so there's a fair amount of urgency here to educate the United States people about what's happening.

It does coincide with work that the bishops are doing in their campaign. And it's actually interesting because their campaign is based around religious liberty and the beauty of the bus trip is that we're exercising our religious liberty. So, in that way, we're in sync, lifting up the liberty that we have in this amazing country.

In other words, the nuns will only focus on religious liberty as it pertains to their war on the Ryan budget (and people who oppose amnesty for illegal aliens). Martin's interview questions asking for Campbell's view of the Vatican investigation of American nuns were almost a rerun of her earlier work on NPR, with only a slight mention of how Sister Simone thought the men who run the church are chumps who need the women to educate them. "Women get it first and then explain it to the guys."

NPR also included four and a half minutes on their evening newscast All Things Considered, where they only considered the view of Father Joe Nangle of Our Lady, Queen of Peace parish in nearby Arlington, Virginia, who holds the curious view that the Vatican should never issue "top-down ultimatums" to nuns who refuse to obey the church. The Franciscan Orders of Friars Minor wrote an "open letter" to the liberal Sisters, which applauded their "courageous discernment" in daring to appear unfaithful to "live authentically" on behalf of great social change:

However, your gift to the Church is not only one of service, but also one of courageous discernment.  The late 20th century and the beginning of this century have been times of great social, political and cultural upheaval and change.  Such contextual changes require us, as faithful members of the Church, to pose questions that at first may appear to be controversial or even unfaithful, but in fact are asked precisely so that we might live authentically the charisms we have received, even as we respond to the “signs of the times.”

The letter also insisted documents of the Second Vatican Council urge that Catholic bishops should only rule by collaborating with men and women in dialogue. The church isn't a place for rulings from popes and bishops, but only for "dialogue," and an implied surrender to the "times" and the left:

JOE NANGLE: That process is not, I think, according to the way, really, the Catholic Church has decided to move in these times. More dialogue is what we're looking for.

AUDIE CORNISH, NPR anchor: In your letter, you describe the tone and direction of the investigation as excessive and I want to be clear. Are the friars arguing that the investigation is appropriate, but that the Vatican is going about it in the wrong way? Or do you believe that the idea of the investigation itself is extreme?

NANGLE: The word investigation is the problem, perhaps. We feel as though there can be disputes, there can be differences of opinion within the life of the church. And there always have been. So to call it an investigation is probably a misnomer. What we would rather see is a dialogue between the Vatican - in this case, the bishops - and the religious women of the United States. That would be totally acceptable, but not an investigation, not kind of a top down ultimatum.

Cornish offered no notion that she understood that the Catholic Church is by definition a "top-down" institution that believes that the Pope and his bishops are ordained to be successors of the original twelve apostles. Cornish, like most secular liberal journalists, sees only that the church must surrender to liberals or it will damage its societal image. After all, this is what taxpayers give their money to NPR to support -- to damage the image of any group that tries to resist liberalism:

CORNISH: The LCWR [Leadership Conference of Women Religious] represents some 57,000 nuns - I mean, it's the vast majority of nuns in the U.S. And, in launching this investigation, do you worry that the Vatican could do harm to the church's image here, particularly among women?

NANGLE: Well, yes, there's no doubt about it. The reaction from all sectors of the Catholic Church in the States has been pretty clear, it seems to me, that, again, it's the process. We feel as though our sisters have been put upon to some extent by the Vatican in the way it was done and we feel as though that that manner of doing things should be changed.

Father Nangle concluded “We’re speaking our truth...We're hoping that their attitude will convince the Vatican that they and we are loyal members of this church, but we're not unthinking. We have our truth to speak.”

Does anyone else find it almost humorous that NPR seems to have less tolerance for dissent -- by firing Juan Williams -- than they want the Catholic Church to display?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis