Panhandlers evicted

Published October 1, 1999

St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal is no longer allowing panhandlers to use its vast church grounds to hit up pilgrims for spare change, the Globe and Mail reports.

The highly visible Montreal landmark is visited by more than two million people each year. Many of the elderly pilgrims feel harassed when they are asked for money, church administrators say. While the oratory has always discouraged panhandling on its grounds, tensions have worsened recently because some panhandlers have been getting more aggressive.

There are reports some panhandlers hit up pilgrims during prayers. One panhandler, annoyed at being ejected from the property, hurled insults at the rector, Rev. Jean-Pierre Aumont, while he was saying mass.

Panhandlers are welcome to come to the oratory to pray, the rector said. But they’ll have to go elsewhere to panhandle. Fr. Aumont said he’s considering posting signs or handing out pamphlets discouraging visitors from offering panhandlers any cash.


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