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Sprinklers off at San Fran cathedral after criticism for wetting homeless

by Desmond Busteed

The archdiocese took down the sprinklers at St. Mary's Cathedral after a barrage of criticism following a report by one of San Francisco's local radio stations that revealed the city's destitute were using umbrellas and waterproof gear, but still getting soaked as they slept in the doorways.

The archdiocese, which supports and helps the homeless, apologised and said its intentions were misunderstood. It said the purpose was to redirect homeless people to safer areas on the cathedral grounds.

"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," said Auxiliary Bishop William Justice, rector of the cathedral.

According to the archdiocese, the sprinkler system was installed two years as a health and safety measure after faeces, needles and other dangerous items were regularly found in the doorways.

San Francisco has one of the largest homeless populations in America. More than 7,000 sleep rough on the city's streets.

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