Where to start with this? Let’s start with the Daily Mail’s piece, accusing a Catholic priest of launching a “scathing attack” on the homeless. The responses to this article are what you might expect – some retired colonels praising the priest for saying what we’re all thinking; some atheists who were clearly too right-wing for the Graubiand wandering in to complain about this God-botherer daring to have a view on poverty.
From there we can trace back (for this is not a cutting-edge Mail exclusive) to a piece in the Brighton Argus, who seem to have a reporter whose sole (if not soul) source of material is this same Catholic priest.
And then let’s read what Fr Ray Blake actually has on his blog.
And here is the rub. Is Fr Ray being “scathing”? Is he “blasting” the poor?
He’s saying homeless people sleep in passages, and sometimes excrete there. Some do. Especially, but not exclusively, ones with alcohol problems.
He’s saying that some homeless people have been known to interrupt services. They have. Especially ones with alcohol problems.
He’s saying that some people who beg for money lie about why they want it. They do. Otherwise 29% of requests for money in London would be “spare us four quid for a few cans of Tennants’ Super?”
And he’s saying that, despite all that, heroically, and despite the fact that the Mail would not do anything of the kind, he is called to love them. Love ain’t easy, because often those we’re called to love ain’t easy. But love is what we’re supposed to do, because love is what God is.
The poor – whether we think they’re deserving or not – are a bleeding nuisance. They demand our time, and our money, and our compassion. They demand we revisit our attitudes. They demand we rethink our society. Some of them are homeless, and some of those are messy, and every one of them is Jesus.
(See also the piece by His Hermeneuticalness)