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Catholic lobbying group stops at Emerson office in Cape
Missouri Catholics on tour advocating for the needs of the poor and challenging the federal budget drafted by GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan stopped at the Cape Girardeau office of U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson on Thursday.
Nuns on the Bus is a recently organized campaign of lobbying Catholic sisters and clergy members who have been traveling the country to visit congressional offices and political events. Group members say the federal budget is "an immoral document" and want the attention of legislators who approved it.
"We feel like we've come to the point where we have to make that kind of statement," said Mary Ann McGivern, of the Sister of Loretto order from St. Louis and who made the trip.
Ryan, who is Catholic, said during a speech over the summer that he believes the work he does in his elected office conforms to the church's social doctrine.
McGivern and others, including several community members, told Emerson's chief of staff, Josh Haynes, that cuts to social assistance programs in the budget are further hindering many low-income people, including those served by Catholic charities, as well as seniors and their access to affordable health care.
Several group members echoed comments made Wednesday by Sister Simone Campbell at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Campbell is the leader of the national Catholic social justice lobby Network, which is leading the traveling campaigns.
Campbell said people should be responsible for themselves but that the budget "goes astray" in not acknowledging the responsibility people have for one another.
Haynes pointed out to the group Emerson's concerns about the rising costs of health care and her support of knocking down the price of prescription drugs. He also said the budget should be seen as a framework for spending. Emerson was not able to attend the meeting due to scheduling conflict, according to Haynes.
Alice Kitchen, a member of the Loretto order community from Kansas City, Mo., said she views Emerson as someone who is "sensible and moderate enough in a way I really appreciate."
Kitchen said Emerson matches many of the group's interests by voting in the best interests of her constituents who need assistance, but that the group doesn't agree with any member of Congress that voted to pass the budget.
The same group has also visited the congressional offices of Sen. Roy Blunt and House members Rep. Sam Graves, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Rep. Billy Long and Rep. Todd Akin since Monday, and plans to visit the office of Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer on Friday.
2502 Tanner Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO