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.