GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 20, 2013

House to vote on stopgap funding bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans struggled to tamp down a family feud Thursday as they approached a politically charged showdown with the White House that combines the threat of a government shutdown, a possible first-ever federal default and the GOP’s bid to repeal the nation’s three-year-old health care law.

One day after conceding that the Democratic-controlled Senate probably would prevail on the last part, Sen. Ted Cruz still vowed to do “everything and anything possible to defund Obamacare.” That includes a possible filibuster of legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown, added the Texas Republican.

That was a step further than Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — Cruz’s partner in a summertime run of “Defund Obamacare” television commercials — was willing to go. President Barack Obama’s health care law “is not worth causing a shutdown over,” he said.

The two men spoke at a news conference with several House Republicans where lawmakers stressed they were unified and thanked Speaker John Boehner for agreeing to tie the anti-shutdown and anti-Obamacare provisions into one bill.

That bill is on track for House passage on Friday, with a Senate showdown to follow.

Pope warns church must find balance between rules and mercy, focus less on abortion, gays

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Signaling a dramatic shift in Vatican tone, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church had become obsessed by “small-minded rules” about how to be faithful and that pastors should instead emphasize compassion over condemnation when discussing divisive social issues of abortion, gays and contraception.

The pope’s remarkably blunt message six months into his papacy was sure to reverberate in the U.S. and around the globe as bishops who have focused much of their preaching on such hot-button issues are asked to act more as pastors of wounded souls.

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