VATICAN CITY (KCBS) -- Just a week after San Francisco Catholic leaders were forced to issue an apology for installing sprinklers to douse the homeless sleeping in St. Mary's Cathedral doorsteps, Pope Francis has gone the other direction, inviting the homeless to tour the Sistine Chapel.
The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano reports the museum will be open to 150 homeless people this Thursday, although they'll enter through a side entrance.
The famous chapel, painted by Michelangelo, will be closed early to the general public.
Following the tour, the homeless group will get dinner at the Vatican, all organized by a monsignor given the job of taking care of the needy.
The pontiff has already given Rome's homeless sleeping bags, showers, and shaves.
The announcement stands in stark contrast to the San Francisco archdiocese's recent public relations nightmare when KCBS Radio reporter Doug Sovern found a sprinkler system had been secretly and illegal installed at the famous Cathedral.
St. Mary's, at Geary and Gough, is the home church of the Archbishop. There are four tall side doors, with sheltered alcoves, that attract homeless people at night.
"They actually have signs in there that say, 'No Trespassing,'" said a homeless man named Robert.
But there are no signs warning the homeless about what happens in these doorways, at various times, all through the night. Water pours from a hole in the ceiling, about 30 feet above, drenching the alcove and anyone in it.
The shower ran for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes while KCBS was there, starting before sunset, simultaneously in all four doorways. KCBS witnessed it soak homeless people, and their belongings.
Leaders later apologized, and announced the illegally-installed sprinkler system had been turned off.
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