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Caring for the Homeless

August 24, 1987

The Union Rescue Mission where the homeless stay is next door to where the Pope will stay when he visits here. City officials say the mission is a security risk for the Pope. Homeless people a threat to the Pope? Or are we as a city ashamed that we have a visible homeless population that we do not want the Pope and the rest of the world to witness?

Los Angeles has been dubbed the Homeless Capitol of the World. Homelessness is a problem we have difficulty in removing. The roots are deep and pervasive. Without commitment we cannot attack this blight.

The Pope knows about homelessness. One of his titles is Vicar of Christ on Earth. Christ taught: feed, clothe and shelter needy people. That is what the Union Rescue Mission is doing. By removing the victims of homelessness temporarily, transporting them away like bags of refuse, we are not protecting the Pope. We all need to be reminded that the homeless have a claim on our attention in justice and love. To shield the Pope from this dramatic reminder of his sacred duty, and ours, is a scandalous deception.

MARTHA FITZGERALD

Los Angeles

(Fitzgerald is president of the L.A. County Advisory Council Area Agency on Aging and a member of the L.A. County Homeless Coalition.)

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