Bishop of Hawaii Robert Fitzpatrick and two Native Hawaiian priests in the diocese have aligned themselves with protestors opposed to a massive telescope project planned atop Mauna Kea, arguing that the site is sacred to the indigenous culture and should be protected from further development.
It is the second time in recent years that Episcopal leaders have taken up the cause of indigenous people against developers. In 2016, Episcopal leaders, including Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, traveled to Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota to oppose a pipeline project there. The Dakota Access Pipeline was completed the next year and is in operation, although litigation continues.
Episcopal News Service reports that there already are smaller telescopes located on Mauna Kea, but the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope is a $1.4 billion project that would be more disruptive.
In a letter to the diocese, Fitzpatrick said:
When I was ordained a Bishop, I promised to “show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper.” At this time, I think fulfillment of that promise means standing with the “protectors” on Maunakea. It means standing with the Hawaiian people as they seek to protect their culture and seek their own path as a sovereign community.