In Washington, the House voted on Tuesday to award New York's ailing Cardinal John O'Connor the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest civilian honour.
   The longtime leader of the Archdiocese's 2.4 million Roman Catholics recently turned 80 and had surgery last fall to remove a brain tumor. He is expected to retire as soon as Pope John Paul II appoints a replacement.
   The House voted 413-1 to give the award to O'Connor. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was the lone opponent.
   Majority Leader Texas Republican Dick Armey, told reporters that O'Connor was being "justifiably honoured" and insisted the award was not an attempt to appease Catholics upset by a flap over the appointment of a new House chaplain. House leaders nominated the Rev. Charles Wright, a Presbyterian minister, for the $A220,000-a-year position even though the Rev. Timothy O'Brien, a Catholic priest, was the top choice of a bipartisan committee of lawmakers.
AP 16/2/00

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