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A Church Set Up Sprinklers to Rain Water Down on Homeless People, and Now It's Apologizing

The Archdiocese of San Francisco is apologizing over a sprinkler system that was installed outside of a church, following media reports that it was being used to stop the homeless from sleeping on the premises.

St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, California, came under fire on Wednesday, leading the diocese to put out a statement clarifying why the system was installed.

"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," it read, in part.

Church leaders were apparently concerned over the presence of these elements, considering that young people and the elderly regularly pass through the area, according to the diocese.

Rather than kick the homeless off of the premises, the Archdiocese of San Francisco said that the goal was to encourage them to relocate to a different area of the cathedral — one that was less frequented.

"The purpose was to make the Cathedral grounds as well as the homeless people who happen to be on those grounds safer," the statement read.

But KCBS radio reported that the system really didn't make the area any cleaner, as cigarettes, syringes and wet cardboard still abounded, with no drainage installed for the water to flow out of the area.

Considering that the sprinkler system might also be in violation of local water codes, the diocese said that it was being removed, going on to apologize to anyone who got the wrong idea about the church's intentions.

"We are sorry that our intentions have been misunderstood and recognize that the method used was ill-conceived," the statement continued. "It actually has had the opposite effect from what it was intended to do, and for this we are very sorry."

According to KCBS radio, a staff member at St. Mary's Cathedral recently said that the sprinklers were installed to stop the homeless from sleeping outside the building.

A homeless man also told the outlet that there's a "no trespassing" sign in the area surrounding the back doors, but no warning about the water that streams out of the ceiling for a period of 75 seconds every 30 to 60 minutes.

The outlet posted video of the sprinkler system in action. See it below:

Some took exception to the sprinkler system, with one neighbor who observed it calling the water that soaked homeless individuals and their belongings "inhumane."

The debate over the sprinkler system is similar to the outrage many voiced over spikes that were placed on the sidewalk outside of a London apartment building in an effort to keep the homeless from sleeping there.

Watch the diocese's apology below:

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Front page image via Shutterstock.com

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