I’ve covered the plight of the homeless in America in recent years as another manifestation of the erosion of decency, empathy, morality and kindness throughout much of our culture. As a society, we’ve become increasingly obsessed with youth, materialism, power and short-termism, tossing aside wisdom, real joy, soulfulness and connectivity. One of the symptoms of this unfortunate transformation can been seen in how we treat the least fortunate and most vulnerable around us, particularly the homeless (see: In 33 U.S. Cities, Feeding the Homeless Has Been Criminalized).
Of all the institutions you’d hope to take a different stance toward the weak and struggling, places of worship would be at the top of the list. Not so for Saint Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, which admittedly sprays sleeping homeless people with water in order to keep them away.
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — KCBS has learned that Saint Mary’s Cathedral, the principal church of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, has installed a watering system to keep the homeless from sleeping in the cathedral’s doorways.
The cathedral, at Geary and Gough, is the home church of the Archbishop. There are four tall side doors, with sheltered alcoves, that attract homeless people at night.
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.