Retired Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson praised Arizona Sen. John S. McCain – who died of brain cancer aged 81 on 25th August – for his service to the nation.
“He was a very principled man who had a passion for service,” Bishop Kicanas told The Catholic Outlook, newspaper of the Tucson Diocese.
The two worked together on immigration reform issues, especially in 2007, when McCain was trying to balance the political pressures of securing the Republican nomination for the 2008 presidential election with his bipartisan attempts at immigration reform.
Bishop Kicanas recalled an office visit in which McCain challenged him to help activate Hispanic and other voters to lobby congressional offices on behalf of immigration reform. “‘I’m getting a call every minute of every day against it,’ he (McCain) said. ‘We need to get your people to speak up,'” the bishop said of the exchange.
Political pressure inevitably doomed the effort.
McCain believed in American principles – such as hard work, co-operation and protecting human dignity – and that sharing those with the world made the world safer.
“He was a tough competitor, but he also understood that we cannot achieve success (global stability) by ourselves,” Bishop Kicanas said.
McCain frequently met foreign leaders and discussed deployment of US troops and military options. Bishop Kicanas also travelled on behalf of Catholic Relief Services, often to sites where civic unrest and war created refugee crises. Although the two leaders never travelled together, they often shared the same goals: protection of human rights and global security.
“We shared a concern about many of the areas of challenge around the world,” the bishop said.
McCain’s efforts, especially in his latter years, to bridge partisanship on important issues such as campaign finance reform, are examples of how much he valued a united drive to achieve a greater good. “He believed we could work together even though we have our differences.”
“He believed in coming together to discuss our differences. In that way, he was very much like Pope Francis,” Bishop Kicanas added.
“That’s a message that’s important for all of us to heed.”
Picture: US Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is pictured in a 2008 photo. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters).