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Anchorage Catholic church hardens stance against city homeless

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Father Anthony Patalanos, pastor at the Holy Family Cathedral in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, appears to have changed his opinion in regard to the city's homeless. According to KTUU, Father Patalanos set aside his homily during Sunday mass to talk instead about the safety threat of the homeless who frequent the church's property.

In the past, Father Patalanos has taken a stance of tolerance toward the destitute occasionally offering food and welcoming those in need onto church grounds. But on Sunday, according to KTUU, Father Patalanos, who said he and other priests had been physically attacked, told the parish:

The current situation with the alcoholics and the disturbed is far worse than we have experienced in the past.  The level of drinking, camping, gathering in groups and disturbances is past the point of toleration.  It endangers our safety and inhibits people from coming to our parish.

Ed O'Neill, the former owner of the liquor chain "Brown Jug" and head of Anchorage Responsible Beverage Association (ARBRA), agreed with Father Patalanos. O'Neill told KTUU, "(Father Patalanos is) on the front line, and he knows best. Unfortunately I wasn't aware of how serious it was until I heard that announcement." O'Neill adds that he hopes the church doesn't go ahead with plans to erect a fence around the grounds or hire security, but that he would like to see the problem resolved.

John Martin, notorious for protesting Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan's policies on the homeless, was sympathetic to the church telling KTUU, "They’re having to deal with the mess. They’re having to deal with the violence. There might be other steps that could be taken.” Martin believes that a homeless camp could help cut down on city problems such as this one.

For more visit KTUU here.