The San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese is not doing themselves any favors, PR-wise, lately, and now we get a story via CBS 5 that they have a policy of showering homeless people with water when they're encamped in the four large side doorways of St. Mary's Cathedral (at Gough and Geary). According to witnesses and a KCBS reporter, the water "pours from a hole in the ceiling, about 30 feet above, drenching the alcove and anyone in it," and it comes on every 30 to 60 minutes (see video above). So Christian, right?!
The Archdiocese confirmed that, yes, the water showers are to deter homeless people from sleeping there, however it hardly seems to work, as several homeless individuals interviewed said they just bring umbrellas, and sometimes end up wet and cold.
Also, WE ARE IN A DROUGHT. Is this really the best use of water every 30 to 60 minutes??
A spokesman for the Archdiocese, who claims not to have known about the water-deterrent system until CBS showed it to him, admits that it doesn't look like it's been all that effective.
Nice work, Archbishop Cordileone. Way to spread the gospel of Jesus.
Update: The Archdiocese was really quick to manage this one. Here's an excerpt from the statement that just went out to the media, which says they'll be uninstalling the system effective immediately.
This sprinkler system in alcoves near our back doorways was installed approximately two years ago, after learning from city resources that this kind of system was being commonly used in the Financial District, as a safety, security and cleanliness measure to avoid the situation where needles, feces and other dangerous items were regularly being left in these hidden doorways. The problem was particularly dangerous because students and elderly people regularly pass these locations on their way to school and mass every day.
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.
We have also now learned that the system in the first place required a permit and may violate San Francisco water-use laws, and the work to remove this system has already started, and will be completed by the end of the day.