November 15, 2019

A Church for the Homeless?

Saint Mary Cathedral in the Archdiocese of San Francisco created quite a stir recently with a unique water sprinkling system. The system was not used to water the grass or flowers. Instead, it sprayed the entranceways of the four sheltered doorways in an attempt to keep homeless people from sleeping there. Well, they do more than just sleep: They urinate, defecate, and dispose of drug paraphernalia there. The spray of water, which fell from the archways for 30 seconds every hour or so during the evening, has not deterred the homeless, for many bring umbrellas and somehow find waterproof clothing.

 In a classic example of entitlement thinking, one of the homeless victims complained, “They actually have signs in there that say, ‘No trespassing.’” The executive director of the Coalition on Homeless told local TV station KCBS that the water spray was “very shocking, and very inhumane. There’s really not another way to describe it. Certainly not formed on the basis of Catholic teaching.” KCBS reported that there were no signs warning the homeless about the sprinkling system and its reporter witnessed the homeless getting soaked, along with all their belongings.

Not only is the water system “inhumane,” but apparently it is a violation of the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, which prohibits “the un-permitted downspout.” The city gave the church fifteen days to remove the water system. 

But not to worry. The Archdiocese has already begun the removal process and has apologized to the homeless. In a written statement, the Archdiocese said, “We are sorry that our intentions have been misunderstood and recognize that the method used was ill-conceived. It actually has had the opposite effect from what it was intended to do, and for this we are very sorry.”

Perhaps I can help the Archdiocese here. Since the church has four of these arched doorways, and apparently the homeless have a right to sleep in them, why not be creative and really help the homeless? For the sake of clarity, I will refer to these doors as numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Door Number 1 will be called the St. Urineus entrance. Instead of a holy water font for the Sign of the Cross, there will be a large urinal attached to the wall. This way, when the homeless men want to relieve themselves, there is at least a chance that the urine will end up in the urinal and not on the entrance floor.

Door Number 2 will be called the Papal Poop Portal. In the floor of the entranceway, there will be a round drain similar to a kitchen sink but much, much larger. Its convex form, covered in a space-age silicone material, will enable fecal matter to simply slide down the drain, no matter where the drop occurs in the doorway. This process will also remove a lot of the stench that would otherwise be present. Of course, there is the real possibility that any item dropped on the floor might slide away, but at least the homeless will be dry.

Door Number 3 will be called the High as the Heavens Door. Here the homeless can partake in any drug activity they so desire. A vending machine will be attached to the walls of the doorway to dispense various hallucinogenic drugs, all at no cost. This device will keep the homeless safe from unscrupulous drug dealers and thieves. A hotline phone will also be on a wall that will connect the user to a local ambulance service in case of an overdose or a bad trip. 

Door Number 4 will be known as the Fornication Foyer. The purpose of this entranceway is self-evident. However, instead of a hard, cold cement floor, there will be soft padding where couples (or more) can express their genuine love and devotion to whoever happens to be sharing the same space. Soft music will emanate from a dual speaker system located in the top of the archway and will occasionally be interrupted by the melodic voice of Pope Francis gently saying, “Who am I to judge?”

I guarantee that if the Archdiocese takes my suggestion, many of the people of San Francisco will praise this new accommodation for the homeless. But as for Archbishop Cordileone, well, no, he’s a lost cause.

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Written by
Thomas Addis

THOMAS ADDIS is a retired high school teacher and published author, most recently authoring a children's book, A Gift of Light, which is available at Amazon. An M.A. graduate of Oakland University, he is Associate Editor of Catholic Journal. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and cycling.

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Written by Thomas Addis
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