“I was dry and you soaked me …”


The premises outside St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco has four tall side doors with sheltered alcoves that were apparently being used by homeless people as a place to sleep. The church apparently did not like this and came up with a novel way to discourage them, as one reporter observed.

But there are no signs warning the homeless about what happens in these doorways, at various times, all through the night. Water pours from a hole in the ceiling, about 30 feet above, drenching the alcove and anyone in it.

The shower ran for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes while we were there, starting before sunset, simultaneously in all four doorways. KCBS witnessed it soak homeless people, and their belongings.

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homeless said, “It’s very shocking, and very inhumane. There’s not really another way to describe it. Certainly not formed on the basis of Catholic teachings.”

A cathedral staff member confirmed to KCBS the system was installed, perhaps a year ago, to deter the homeless from sleeping there.

Clearly the church misunderstood the meaning of the biblical passage Matthew 25:35 where Jesus says “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

I don’t think Jesus meant to give people to drink in this way.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Using water for this purpose during a record drought adds a special spirit to the church’s non-verbal message.

    Eventually they did send a flunky Auxiliary Bishop (named William Justice – who could make that up?) out to explain that the church was so terribly misunderstood:

    … the homeless who usually sleep in the alcoves were warned before the system was put into place. … “it was just, you know, it was light — it wasn’t like flooding.”

    Another flack for the Archdiocese noted:

    … that the cathedral needed a permit to disable the sprinklers and that … the Archdiocese was currently working to find a better system.

    Just makes you want to genuflect, doesn’t it?

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Black comedy gold, on a par with

    Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

  3. says

    The full name of the place is “Saint Mary of the Assumption”…the assumption being that people will believe the fiction that they care about the poor.

    These are the same people who spent a QUARTER BILLION on a cathedral in Los Angeles. Why didn’t they spend ten million and save the rest to house the poor, or at least, pay off the victims of sexual abuse?

  4. Jockaira says

    “The shower ran for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes while we were there, starting before sunset, simultaneously in all four doorways. KCBS witnessed it soak homeless people, and their belongings.”

    One might also ponder the charitable inclinations of KCBS’s personnel who had apparently stationed themselves overnight to “witness” the recurring incidents and also apparently heartlessly allowed the homeless to be drenched and perhaps to have their health endangered.

    What a wonderful world!

  5. nemistenem says

    Wow, multiple free baptisms per night, how generous of them. Assuming the jerks used their special holy water to annoint the homeless.

  6. lorn says

    At the very least, and possibly the legal edge necessary to stop this, it sounds like a violation of water use regulations.

  7. says

    “Certainly not formed on the basis of Catholic teachings.”

    You are what you do….nothing more, nothing less. Call yourself whatever you want….Doesn’t matter. You are what you do….nothing more, nothing less…

  8. Ed says

    Sounds like their role model is Noah, not Jesus.

    Didn’t cathedrals once provide people with sanctuary? Now it’s “keep the hell away unless you’re a paying customer”.

  9. thebookofdave says

    Matthew 25:35 seems to slipped their minds, but the church remembers Leviticus 21:17-21, where god explains that he is sick of the sight of the riff-raff, and wants them out of his house.

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