The San Francisco Chronicle reports here that Hawaii is wrestling with a dilemma. Father Damien, the priest who selflessly cared for lepers until the disease took his life, lived in Kalaupapa. While Hawaii is nothing if not a tourist destination, Kalaupapa “is sacred ground with a history of disease, suffering and isolation.” With Father Damien’s canonization likely next year, Kalaupapa, which still cares for people with leprosy, is being sought out by pilgrims and tourists. Thus the dilemma.
“The priority is the patients. That’s why we have to approach this very delicately,” said state Sen. J. Kalani English. “Their privacy is paramount, their security is paramount, their dignity is paramount.”
A complicating factor: the Vatican-approved miracle that will bring Father Damiem sainthood came to a cancer sufferer who traveled to Kalaupapa to pray for healing — and was inexplicably healed.