Recently the Hawaii Catholic Herald ran a full page ad by the Aloha Family Alliance PAC several times calling on Christians in Hawaii to not be “lackadaisical” and to engage fully in the “battle for the soul of Hawaii” by upholding traditional marriage and opposing same-sex marriage/civil unions.
The parents of a gay man wrote to the paper to express their deep dismay at the assertion that same sex unions would lead to “public school children being taught that homosexual behavior is normal and natural . . . [and] would result in experimentation by impressionable sexually developing children. “
They were equally offended by the ad’s misleading assertion that “Tax-payer funded public schools teaching values that attack the sacred institution of marriage is simply wrong.”
The editor of the Herald, after consultation with the Bishop, declined to publish their letter.
Included in the reasoning of the editor who made it clear that he was also conveying the sentiments of the Bishop were the following statements:
“The mission of the Hawaii Catholic Herald is to present and promote Catholic teaching, which would include preserving and strengthening the institution of marriage for the common good.
Your position is that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the matter is not only wrong, it is hurtful, perhaps even hateful. You are entitled to that point of view, of course, but a publication of the Catholic Church would have little reason to publish it.”
It was timely therefore to receive via the National Catholic Reporter’s editorial by Tom Fox, a reminder that the role of the Catholic press has not always been perceived through a lens that is so shaded by power and the views of the clergy. NCR Editor, Tom Fox recalls in the September 17 issue the words of Jesuit Fr. John Courtney to journalists in Rome in 1963:
“The Catholic Press . . . is not the organ of some class within the church. It does not exist to further certain interests merely, especially if these interests be conceived in some narrow and rather sectarian sense. The Catholic press does not exist to glorify the clergy. The Catholic press does not exist in order to create a public image of the church that will be untrue to the reality of the pilgrim church, the wayfaring church, the church that trudges along the road of history and gets her feet dusty at times.”
The parents of the gay man who wished to have their voices heard through the pages of the Hawaii Catholic Herald are true pilgrims in this wayfaring church. Their dissenting Catholic opinion deserves at least as much room in the only Catholic paper in Hawaii as a clergy-approved ad advancing a position abhorrent to parents of a gay son who believe that “homosexuals deserve be told that they are no less worthy of love, acceptance, and appreciation than are their heterosexual brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins. “
They should have as much right of access to the same Catholic press that runs an ad that sends a very different message.