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Green Bay, Norwich dioceses battle city officials over service to poor

CWN - December 19, 2012

City official in Green Bay, Wisconsin, have moved to shut down a homeless shelter operated by the Catholic Church, saying that the St. John the Evangelist Shelter has regularly exceeded its legal capacity.

Reporting that as many as 86 homeless people have stayed at the facility, which has a permit for only 64 beds, the city is threatening to levy fines for overuse. Mayor Jim Schmitt has charged that the shelter is “unchristian” because it does not provide services that help homeless people find work and permanent housing. Deacon Tim Reilly, a spokesman for the Green Bay diocese, replies that the shelter is only responding to an enormous demand for temporary lodging. “We need to take care of the people who are going to be coming to the shelter tomorrow night in the middle of the snowstorm,” he said.

In Norwich, Connecticut, another Church-run institution serving the poor faces a threat from urban officials. The city’s planning board has ruled that the St. Vincent de Paul Place soup kitchen cannot remain in its present location, because clients were disrupting the neighborhood. The Norwich diocese, which argues that the soup kitchen is a natural extension of the local parish and school, plans to appeal the ruling.

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