Saturday 20 July 2019

Church should open doors to rough sleepers, says homeless woman who met Pope

Rosemary meeting Pope Francis. Photo: Damien Eagers
Rosemary meeting Pope Francis. Photo: Damien Eagers
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

A homeless woman sleeping in freezing conditions on the street months after a meeting Pope Francis has called on the Catholic Church to open churches for rough sleepers.

Rosemary Hughes (35), who has a serious visual impairment with only 10pc vision, said she was searching for cardboard to sleep on with her guide dog at a shop front on Grafton Street, Dublin, on Sunday night.

She claimed there was no suitable accommodation avail­able for her and her condition, since a hostel she had been staying in long term was closed down more than two years ago.

Ms Hughes spoke briefly to Pope Francis when he stopped off to visit Brother Kevin Crowley at the Capuchin Day Centre, Dublin, in August last year. "The Pope was very humble and he said no one should be basically left outside on their own, as in we're all members of society," Ms Hughes said.

"He was a lovely man," she added.

However, she was quick to point out she felt more work needed to be done by the Catholic Church in Ireland on the issue of homelessness.

"I think they should be opening the churches to homeless people at night. I think there should be some help providing shelter.

"They certainly have the wealth, they certainly have the power, they certainly have the facilities," she added.

Shelter: Rosemary Hughes and her dog sleep in a shop doorway on Dublin’s Grafton Street. Photo: Damien Eagers
Shelter: Rosemary Hughes and her dog sleep in a shop doorway on Dublin’s Grafton Street. Photo: Damien Eagers

Ms Hughes had been staying at the John's Lane West hostel in Dublin 2 for a number of months until it closed in July 2016.

The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) has said it had offered accommodation to her on a number of occasions but this hadn't been taken up.

Despite being complimentary of the Pope when she met him in August, Ms Hughes said the Church had been found wanting on issues of homelessness.

She said more needed to be done given its vast wealth and land.

Irish Independent

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