From: Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Friday, Dec. 19
The Op-Ed includes the following paragraph:
"Even the bedrock institution of marriage, so basic and crucial for community's health and well-being, is not safe from redefinition and devaluation anymore."
Later there is a reference to "We stand in defense of ... marriage and family, ....".
A web site which archives many articles on same-gender marriage is
Catholics Must Spread Message In Halls Of Power
It has been a little more than four years since I arrived in Hawaii to be administrator, and then bishop, of this diocese.
I had never been here before then. My knowledge of these islands had only been culled from books, magazines, movies, and, of course, the heroic legacy of Father Damien. [note by TR: Father Damien was a Belgian priest who served the leper colony on Molokai, and eventually contracted leprosy from which he died. A statue of Father Damien graces an entrance to the State Capitol, and a remarkable one-man play of Damien's life has been broadcast by public television nationally.]
I came, quite frankly, as an obedient servant of my church, uncertain and apprehensive about my ability to be chief shepherd of this distant (for me) Catholic community.
But the people of Hawaii greeted me with the aloha spirit long before I knew what aloha really meant. Catholics and non-Catholics welcomed me to my new home with a wonderful warmth and charm.
As an "outsider," it took time to learn about and appreciate the numerous cultures, customs and styles in Hawaii. And I realize that I have only touched the surface of the rich traditions and blessings here.
Who cannot be amazed at Hawaii's sparkling oceans and lush landscape? Even more beautiful is the rainbow of faces representing the blend of ethnic richness. The sensitivity and respect which most people extend to each other, even in conflict, serves as a model for the rest of the nation. The tenderness and care for family, children, and the elderly are genuine and moving.
But there is also another side of paradise, a contradictory side, which is the source of great personal pain.
Hawaii was the first state to legalize abortion. Domestic violence is on the rise. Record-level unemployment is causing real hardship.
The issue of injustice against the Hawaiian people remains unsolved as our native people find themselves among the most disadvantaged in their own land.
Even the bedrock institution of marriage, so basic and crucial for our community's health and well-being, is not safe from redefinition and devaluation anymore.
In recent months an increasing amount of attention has been directed toward the economic future of our state. No longer are we hiding the fact that Hawaii's economy is in bad shape.
The bad economy affects jobs, education, families, immigrants, charities, the poor -- everyone.
As a church with the largest network of private social
services in the state, we have been seeing the effects of the struggle
Our Catholic community has an unmatched record of social service in this state, from food banks to housing, from education to health care, from foster care to job counseling, and everything in between.
We stand in defense of the poor and the immigrant, of marriage and family, of those violated in the womb and in the home. We back our talk with action. The Gospel compels us to do so and we will continue to do so.
I believe that our state is at an important juncture in its history. Reform is needed because lives are unraveling. But reform must be based on human dignity and the common good of the entire community.
It must be principle-based. Otherwise, reform will be dictated by greed and self-interest.
This leads me to my final challenge. We are privileged to live in a democracy, where everyone's voice has an equal vote.
Catholics have a serious obligation to bring to our democratic table voices of justice and truth, honesty and dignity, solidarity and integrity. And it is critical that we do this now, as competing forces attempt to form the future of our state.
There are those who would tell us that religious beliefs have no place in the exercise of citizenship. They may even have convinced many of us of that notion.
But they are wrong. It is precisely because of our religious beliefs that we must advocate for justice, for human dignity and the good of the community.
I call on all Catholics to exercise their democratic duties. Take the principles of Catholic social teaching into the marketplace and into the Capitol.
Hold accountable your elected officials, business leaders, educators, and, yes, your religious leaders.
They need to hear from us -- all of us.
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