The Clash of the Catholic Feminists

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Sr. Simone Campbell

After reading an article tonight on CNN about the Catholic nun who brought her “star power” to the DNC, I just couldn’t help but express my utter bewilderment by their use of the words “Catholic” and “Feminist” to describe this woman. When I hear the term Catholic Feminist, I see a completely different woman than Sr. Simone Campbell.  I see the women of The New Feminism Movement. Such women as Pia De Solenni, Janet Smith, Dr. Angela Franks, Helen Avare JD at Women Speak for Themselves, Marjorie Campbell and all the contributors at New Feminism, the smart gals over at, Theresa Martin from New Feminism Rising,  Jess Smith from, Kristin Detloff at, and the list could go on and on. The Catholic women I see who identify themselves as Feminists look nothing like Sr. Simone.

“And at a convention that is revolving largely around an alleged GOP-led “war on women,” Campbell is a poignant feminist symbol. She has stood up to the Vatican’s criticisms of American nuns for what the church says is their fixation on progressive advocacy at the expense of promoting socially conservative positions.

“We’re certainly oriented toward the needs of women and responding to their needs,” she told Colbert in June, defending the nuns against the Vatican. “If that’s radical, I guess we are.””

As her sister in Christ (albeit a few decades younger) I am not aiming to be malicious or degrade her for holding views different than mine, but I can’t help but draw attention to the very obvious facts that are missing from this story. She is failing to uphold the fundamental principles of being a faithful Catholic AND those of a true Feminist.

First of all, this woman who is claiming to love the Catholic Church through her lifelong vow of obedience as a professed religious is now willfully being disobedient to her Bishops and essentially saying, “I know where this bus should be going, let me drive.” The use of her religious vocation as a platform to confuse fellow Catholics is certainly disheartening and highlights exactly why the Vatican has been cracking down on these very politically powerful women. She even adds a little insult to her injury of defying the Bishops by quoting them in this short clip trying to make it seem as if her positions were supported overall by the USCCB. They are not.
Sr. Campbell video CNN

But the main thing that I notice differs between Sr. Simone and New Feminists is that we fundamentally view the needs of women differently. Sr. Simone says she is oriented towards the needs of women, which leaves me wondering what in the world does she think the rest of us need?  Has she really considered the assumptions and views about women that are inherent in the Healthcare Law? Does she really believe that her sisters are so weak minded that we cannot learn to manage our own fertility? Does she believe as the current administration does that carcinogenic drugs are worthy of coverage to prevent our beautiful natural fertility, but that education to learn about this fertility in order to preserve it is not?  Does she think that pregnancy and motherhood are some sort of disease that should be treated with preventative measures? Does she believe we need birth control to treat everything from acne to cramps and increase our risk of blood clots and stroke in the process of receiving this poor substitute for real medical research and treatment? How does she see forcing her fellow Catholics to pay for abortions with their tax dollars as maintaining her supposed pro-life stance? I simply cannot understand how she and I can both claim the same title of Catholic Feminists when we stand so opposed on our view of women.

There is indeed a new wave of Feminism rising. It looks nothing like Sr. Simone Campbell. It is a hopeful and positive view of women and their abilities and when the swells of its message reach the ears of mainstream America we will see those who would support the destruction of the feminine gifts relegated to the ranks of  true misogynists.

Leah Jacobson

Leah Jacobson

Leah Jacobson, foundress of The Guiding Star Project, is dedicated to creating a Culture of Life through the implementation of Guiding Star Centers nationwide. These centers will promote New Feminism and Natural Law and are the next stage for the pro-women and pro-life movements to collaborate in a holistic, comprehensive approach.

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10 Responses

  1. WOW! How wonderful to show the Catholic Feminist. Thank you. One point that was missed, she is NOT a nun and this is a complete insult to the wonderful Nuns that do Gods work.

    1. Agreed Mark. She is in actuality not a nun, but as the media really cares very little about these distinctions, I was not surprised to see that term used incorrectly.

      For anyone wanting to know the difference between a nun and a sister, this link seems to address it pretty well.

      I’m more concerned about the bad rap she’s giving Catholic Feminists than if the title she’s doing it under is appropriate.

  2. Thanks Leah! When I opened my email this morning and saw this headline, I thought “for sure I have to read this one!” And then I saw it was written by you. Sweet!

  3. “Does she believe we need birth control to treat everything from acne to cramps…”?

    Sloppy language such as that causes much unnecessary grief to many devout Catholic women.

    “Birth control” isn’t a drug. It’s a use. So, when a particular drug is being used to treat acne or cramps it isn’t “birth control”.

    1. My apologies. To many people reference to “birth control” is synonymous to artificial methods, usually hormonal drugs. But I will clarify my use of the term here.


      “Does she believe we need hormonal contraceptives to treat everything from acne to cramps…”?

      Birth Control Pills are prescribed with regularity by many physicians to treat these sorts of things when in actuality they are doing nothing to treat the source of the initial problems. These additional hormones simply mimic a pregnant state and mask the symptoms of untreated disease. The Healthcare Law Sr. Simone has championed for sees nothing wrong with paying fully for these drugs to be used in these and all other instances, thus ignoring root causes of women’s real health problems.

  4. Leah,

    I am a college student, and I love being Catholic. However, not everyone on campus understands. I was wondering if you could explain or provide a link that explains the disagreement between the Vatican and American nuns/sisters? I want to be able to defend the Church to others, and I have unfortunately been insufficient in my attempts thus far. Thanks for another great article!

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