Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Catholic, other groups voice misgivings over 2018 farm bill

WASHINGTON — With the 2018 version of the farm bill having been voted out of committee for consideration by the full House, Catholic groups and other rural advocates are voicing their misgivings about many of its provisions. Conservation programs that reward farmers and ranchers were zeroed out of the bill passed April 18 by the House Agriculture Committee. "Safety net" programs were boosted only marginally to aid farmers who have been getting dwindling prices for their crops and who could be the first victims of a trade war as tariffs are imposed on their produce. Another part of the bill rewrites the eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, which could kick out 2 million Americans from the program, according to six Catholic leaders. "Eighty percent of the farm bill is around the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It's significant when we hear it's going to include some dramatic cuts," said James Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life. About $1 billion would be cut from the Conservation Stewardship Program, according to Ennis.

Bishop pays tribute to Barbara Bush at memorial

HOUSTON — Retired Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston joined other religious leaders in paying tribute to Barbara Bush April 19 during a ceremony described as a Celebration of Life in front of Houston City Hall April 19. He described the former first lady as a "faithful citizen besides being an outstanding wife and mother." The archbishop focused on her life of service that continued long after she left the White House when her husband George H.W. Bush served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. Barbara Bush, the wife of the nation's 41st president and mother of the 43rd president, died at her home in Houston April 17 at the age of 92. "We've been blessed in this city to have Barbara Bush as an outstanding example of a person who is truly involved in the city. You know, she could have set back and enjoyed life for 10, 15, 20 more years. But she got involved. She got involved in education. She got involved with children who needed to learn how to read and write," the archbishop said. "Her life has been an outstanding example of what it means to be a devoted wife, a devoted mother and a very involved citizen - a very, very faithful citizen of Houston. We were so blessed to have her with us and to have the type of example that the Bush family offers the nation," he said.

WORLD

Toronto cardinal calls for prayers after van driver kills at least 10

TORONTO — Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins called for special prayers after a van jumped a curb and killed at least 10 people on a busy Toronto street. Although officials said the April 23 incident did not appear to be terrorism, they said it did appear to be deliberate. Cabinet members from leading industrialized nations were meeting in Toronto in preparation for a G-7 summit in Quebec in June. "I invite the Catholic community across the Archdiocese of Toronto to join me in offering our prayers for all those who were killed and injured in the violent incident earlier today," the cardinal said in a statement. "I will be asking all 225 Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Toronto to offer special prayer intentions this week for all those who have suffered. Let us all unite in our efforts to bring comfort and care to those who are hurting today." Authorities identified the driver as Alek Minassian, who was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder.

— Catholic News Service 

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