Press studies point out that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (AOC) just lately complained that amongst Hawaii’s statues within the National Statuary Hall Collection within the Capitol Hill advanced is one honoring Father Damien, né Jozef de Veuster (now St. Damien of Molokai), describing it “as a consultant instance of ‘what patriarchy and white supremacist tradition seems [sic] like.'” A Belgian immigrant, Father Damien is an odd alternative of goal for the congresswoman from New York as a result of he’s a mannequin immigrant — and an exemplar for all American individuals, native- and foreign-born.
Observe that every state is allowed by law to supply two statutes for show within the U.S. Capitol, “of deceased individuals, who’ve been residents thereof, and illustrious for his or her historic renown or for distinguished civic or army service as every State could deem worthy of this nationwide commemoration.” Hawaii selected to ship statues of Father Damien and King Kamehameha I, each of which acquired unveilings within the Capitol Rotunda on April 15, 1969, 80 years after the priest’s demise.
AOC apparently believes that the Aloha State ought to have despatched another statue, like “Queen Lili’uokalani, the final monarch of the dominion of Hawaii”. I don’t need to pile on the congresswoman’s statements with different critics (together with the Catholic News Agency — hardly a pro-Trump outlet), however her criticism merely is senseless when it comes to different assertions she has made.
Particularly, her house website states, with respect to range, that she “believes that on this nation, our range is our biggest energy” and also that “we should construct a simply society to guard our communities and uplift our neighbors”, together with via the availability of “healthcare”. The primary sentiment actually describes Father Damien, and he’s the flesh-and-blood embodiment of the second.
Born the youngest of seven youngsters in rural Belgium in January 1840, he entered the Sacred Hearts Congregation at Louvain in January 1859. A brother, additionally a member of the non secular order, was ordered to be despatched to Hawaii in 1864, however the brother turned ailing, and then-Brother Damien provided to go in his place. It was in Hawaii in Might 1864 what place he was ordained into the priesthood.
A leper colony had been established by then-King Kamehameha V on the Kalaupapa Peninsula in Molokai in 1866. The Architect of the Capitol explains that a lot of Father Damien’s parishioners had been despatched to the colony, and so he wrote to the daddy basic of his order “that he had ‘an plain feeling that quickly I shall be a part of them.'”
He travelled with Bishop Louis-Désiré Maigret (one other immigrant and the Vicar Apostolic of the Hawaiian Islands) with a shipload of lepers to the colony in Might 1873, and two days later determined to dedicate his life to them. Bishop Maigret acceded, and subsequently:
Father Damien achieved wonderful feats whereas residing on Molokai. Six chapels have been constructed by 1875. He constructed a house for boys and later a house for women. He bandaged wounds, made coffins, dug graves, heard confessions, and stated Mass each morning.
Father Damien contracted the illness in 1885, however continued his work in Molokai. He succumbed to the results of leprosy on April 15, 1889.
He was acknowledged by the Kingdom of Hawaii for his work throughout his lifetime, being named a Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Kalākaua in 1881 by then-Princess Lili’uokalani (referenced by AOC) “for his ‘efforts in assuaging the distresses and mitigating the sorrows of the unlucky.'” He realized to talk the native language in the midst of his ministry.
Curiously, Father Damien as a role-model was known as into query earlier than, shortly after his demise, because the New World Encyclopedia explains:
Much criticism got here from the American Congregational and Presbyterian church buildings, who feared the affect of Catholicism (particularly if Hawaii turned part of america). They derided Damien as a “false shepherd” who was pushed by private ambition and ego.
One Presbyterian minister in Honolulu, Reverend C.M. Hyde, described Fr. Damien as “a rough, dirty man, head-strong and bigoted” (and people have been among the many nicer feedback he made). This prompted Presbyterian novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (who had spent eight days in Molokai searching for out info on Father Damien after his demise) to draft a prolonged response, by which he acknowledged:
And observe: that which I noticed and suffered from was a settlement purged, bettered, beautified; the brand new village constructed, the hospital and the Bishop-House excellently organized; the sisters, the physician, and the missionaries, all indefatigable of their noble duties. It was a distinct place when Damien got here there and made his nice renunciation, and slept that first evening below a tree amidst his rotting brethren: alone with pestilence; and searching ahead (with what bravery, with what pitiful sinkings of dread, God solely is aware of) to a lifetime of dressing sores and stumps.
It was his half, by one putting act of martyrdom, to direct all males’s eyes on that distressful nation. At a blow, and with the value of his life, he made the place illustrious and public. And that, if you’ll think about largely, was the one reform needful; pregnant of all that ought to succeed. It introduced cash; it introduced (greatest particular person addition of all of them) the sisters; it introduced supervision, for public opinion and public curiosity landed with the person at Kalawao. If ever any man introduced reforms, and died to carry them, it was he. There’s not a clean cup or towel within the Bishop-House, however dirty Damien washed it.
In a passage that he may have been written yesterday to AOC, and after detailing Father Damien’s shortcomings, Stevenson noticed:
There are various … who require their heroes and saints to be infallible; to those the story will probably be painful; to not the true lovers, patrons, and servants of mankind.
And that I take it, it is a kind of our division; that you’re a kind of who’ve an eye fixed for faults and failures; that you just take a pleasure to seek out and publish them; and that, having discovered them, you make haste to overlook the overvailing virtues and the actual success which had alone launched them to your information.
Did I point out that Gandhi was additionally a fan, and that in 2005, Father Damien was named De Grootste Belg (The Best Belgian) in a nationwide ballot in that nation?
The priest was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2009. On the event of that occasion, then-President Barack Obama acknowledged:
Fr. Damien has additionally earned a particular place within the hearts of Hawaiians. I recall many tales from my youth about his tireless work there to take care of these affected by leprosy who had been solid out. Following within the steps of Jesus’ ministry to the lepers, Fr. Damien challenged the stigmatizing results of illness, giving voice to the unvoiced and in the end sacrificing his own life to carry dignity to so many.
I used to stroll via the Corridor of Columns within the Capitol on my method to work as a staffer, and the boxy nature of Fr. Damien’s statue (a signature of sculptor Marisol Escobar) actually caught out from the extra classical poses of honorees. Because the Architect of the Capitol describes it:
The bronze statue is predicated on images taken of Father Damien close to the tip of his life, with the scars of his illness visible on his face and his proper arm in a sling beneath his cloak. His broad-brimmed hat was historically worn by missionaries. His proper hand holds a cane.
To be truthful, the congresswoman has tried to “make clear” her statements:
At no level did I say Fr. Damien was a nasty determine – actually, I explicitly acknowledged that my observations weren’t about litigating his or any particular person statue.
It’s about the truth that an enormous supermajority of statues within the Capitol are white males. Barely any ladies or BIPOC. https://t.co/son0SZ2HVS
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 2, 2020
Respectfully, even her level taken in the perfect gentle to her misses the level. Assume that range is a energy of our immigration system (a degree on which AOC and that I agree)? A rough and head-strong man who involves a brand new nation and dedicates his life to assuaging the sufferings of the nationals of that nation ought to be your patron saint and exhibit primary in your case.
Assume that healthcare is essential to a simply society (once more, a degree of agreement; we probably simply have other ways to get there)? Father Damien helped to create a extra simply society for lepers in Hawaii by offering them with healthcare and therapeutic, and making public their sufferings, thereby exponentially bettering their plight. Keep in mind the phrases of Stevenson and Obama.
Each immigrant owes, at a minimal, an obligation to his or her new dwelling to turn into a superb citizen, obey the legal guidelines, and contribute to society. The identical is true, as effectively, for native-born residents themselves. The distinctive immigrant is like Father Damien — selfless in figuring out struggling in his new nation and giving his life to assuaging it.
Sure — he was Belgian, male, and an immigrant. However, the folks of Hawaii, after contemplating all different candidates, selected Father Damien for that biggest of honors — a statue in america Capitol. The Native Hawaiian Data Book reveals, nonetheless, that “Caucasians” have by no means been a majority within the state — so it’s not like they have been tipping the scales in Father Damien’s favor.
Actually, in 1969, when his statue was positioned, Hiram Fong (R) (the son of Chinese language immigrants who was the nation’s first Asian-American senator) and Daniel Inouye (D) (a Japanese-American) represented Hawaii within the Senate, and Spark Masayuki Matsunaga (additionally a Japanese-American) was the state’s sole consultant.
Does AOC have a degree about statues within the Capitol? I do not know; it’s as much as every state to resolve. However if you’re on the lookout for a poster boy, be certain he’s one who represents the purpose you are attempting to make. Not the alternative.