Retired Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson praised Arizona Sen. John S. McCain, who died of brain cancer Aug. 25, for his service to the nation. He was 81.
“He was a very principled man who had a passion for service,” Bishop Kicanas told the Catholic Outlook, newspaper of the Tucson Diocese, Aug. 27.
McCain and Bishop Kicanas 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, a longtime U.S. senator, a one-time Republican nominee for president and a war hero, was born on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone. His father, John S. McCain Jr. and his grandfather, John S. McCain Sr., were both four-star admirals in the Navy.
He followed in their footsteps. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., graduating in 1958. He served in the Navy in the Vietnam War, where he was captured in 1967 and was a prisoner of war until his release in 1973.
McCain represented a Phoenix district in Congress from 1981 until 1986, when he was elected to the Senate. He served there the rest of his life and ran for President in 2000 and 2008. In 2008, he was chosen as the GOP nominee but was defeated by Barack Obama.
McCain frequently met foreign leaders and discussed deployment of U.S. troops and military options.
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 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.”
The Arizona Catholic Conference noted McCain’s passing in an Aug. 27 statement.
“John McCain is an American hero who served his country with the utmost admiration in both the Navy and the U.S. Senate. His patriotism and dedicated service will long be remembered for generations to come,” the conference said.
“Although he will be remembered by all Americans, we are fortunate as Arizonans that we can call Sen. McCain one of our own.
Survivors include his 106-year-old mother, Roberta McCain; his wife, Cindy; seven children and five grandchildren; a sister, Sandy, and a brother, Joseph.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix. He will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Friday, Aug. 31. A ceremony begins at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. The public is invited to pay their respects from 2 to 8 p.m. A national memorial service, by invitation only, will be held at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1.
Burial will be Sunday, Sept. 2, in the cemetery of the U.S. Naval Academy following a private memorial service at 2 p.m. in the academy chapel. —CNS