July 7, 2018 // National

News Briefs: July 8, 2018

Republicans help bring down their party’s ‘compromise’ immigration bill

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Republicans failed June 27 to advance a bill on immigration before Congress takes a summer break, unable to get enough votes from their own party to back it, even as public outcry grows over family separation at the border and other immigration issues. The proposal, which had been called a “compromise” bill by Republicans, would have provided some respite to youth brought to the country illegally as minors, as well as some $25 million in funding for part of a wall along the border with Mexico, which President Donald Trump desperately wants. But the House of Representatives, in a 121-301 vote, solidly showed the lack of consensus among lawmakers, even in the majority-Republican House: 112 Republicans voted against the bill and 121 Republicans voted in favor of it. No Democrats voted for the bill. The bill addressed keeping together parents and children detained for crossing the border illegally, and some are still urging Congress to take up that issue separately before going on break for the Fourth of July recess. Republican Congressman Will Hurd, of Texas, had said in a statement released by his office June 21 that he opposed money for the border wall, saying it was “an expensive and ineffective 4th-century border security tool that takes private property away from hundreds of Texans.” He also expressed concern about taking away something from one immigration program in exchange for helping another. 

Canadian bishops say marijuana use may soon be legal but remains sinful

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) — Marijuana use across Canada may soon be legal in the eyes of the law, but it will remain a sin in the eyes of the Church, said Canada’s bishops. With the exception of cannabis use for medicinal purposes, consuming marijuana violates the virtue of temperance and should be avoided, said Msgr. Frank Leo, general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The virtue of temperance, as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco or medicine,’” said Msgr. Leo. “In a particular way, the catechism underscores that the use of any drug, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is also a ‘grave offense’ — for the use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life.” After the Canadian government’s Cannabis Act received royal assent in the Senate June 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced recreational use of marijuana would cease to be a crime as of Oct. 17. Canada is the second country in the world, following Uruguay, to legalize the drug nationwide. Under the law, adults can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, cultivate up to four marijuana plants per household and can use cannabis to prepare edible products. It will be sold in regulated outlets. Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, whose cathedral opens onto a view of Parliament Hill, is not “hailing” the legalization, as are many others. 

Broken world needs Christian unity, pope tells Christian leaders at WCC

GENEVA (CNS) — Not only God, but today’s broken, divided world is begging for unity among Christians, Pope Francis said on an ecumenical pilgrimage to Geneva. “Our differences must not be excuses,” he said, because as Christ’s disciples, Christians can still pray together, evangelize and serve others. On his 23rd apostolic journey abroad June 21, the pope spent several hours with Christian leaders at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches. The pope came to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of what is the largest and broadest ecumenical fellowship in the world. Speaking to reporters aboard the papal plane from Rome, the pope said, “This is a trip toward unity,” representing the “desire for unity.” He was greeted on the tarmac by dignitaries and two children in traditional dress; Two former members of the Swiss Guard stood by the red carpet in the corps’ full colorful uniform, which only happens on papal trips to Switzerland. Active guard members traveling with the pope are always in plainclothes. 

Forgiveness turns evil into good, pope tells Catholics in Geneva

GENEVA (CNS) — At the end of a day dedicated to celebrating 70 years of an ecumenical fellowship forged by the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis turned to the region’s Catholics, reminding them of what lies at the heart of the faith. The Lord’s Prayer “offers us a road map for the spiritual life” by reminding people they are part of one human family, that they should live a simpler, more caring life and that forgiveness works miracles in history, he said. “There is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good,” he told 40,000 Catholics from Switzerland, France and other nations not far from this landlocked country, whose history was built on the values of peace and neutrality. The pope was in Geneva June 21 “as a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace,” for a one-day journey celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches — a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches, who represent some 500 million Christians worldwide. The Catholic Church, which cooperates extensively with the council, is not a full member. Celebrating Mass at the city’s enormous indoor expo center, the pope pointed to the essential lessons contained in the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus teaches his disciples in the day’s Gospel reading. The pope first circled the vast indoor center in a small white electric cart, greeting the faithful and blessing babies. Former pontifical Swiss guards in traditional uniform were present, standing at attention, representing their service rendered for more than 500 years in Rome. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire from Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced June 27, the last day of the Supreme Court’s current term, that he is retiring July 31. Less than an hour later, President Donald Trump said he would move quickly to nominate a replacement, saying he would review a list of candidates from the list he had to fill the seat now held by Justice Neil Gorsuch after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Kennedy is one of five Catholic justices on the Supreme Court along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor. Rumors about his retirement have been around for a while. Kennedy, who turns 82 in July, is the second-oldest member of the court after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 85. He also is the longest-serving justice currently on the court, appointed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. A California native, Kennedy took over the family law firm practice in 1963, the year his father died. That same year, he married Mary Davis. The couple has three children. 

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