Share this story

 | Chieko Noguchi | USCCB

Recognize the Inherent Dignity of Every Person, Especially Those Experiencing Homelessness, says Archbishop Gudziak

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

“Policies that criminalize homelessness are a direct contradiction of our call to shelter those experiencing homelessness and care for those in need,” Archbishop Borys Gudziak, responding to today’s Supreme Court decision in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Gloria Johnson, et al. 

The Court ruled it constitutional to arrest or fine individuals experiencing homelessness for resting or shielding themselves from the elements in a public place even when no safe shelter is available.

“Criminalizing homeless is not the response to caring for those in need. This decision fails to affirm the inherent dignity of a person, which is properly recognized by the constitution. Having to sleep in public with a blanket is the definition of being homeless. Ticketing and arresting people for it is a counterproductive approach to the problem of homelessness. Instead of punishing the most vulnerable among us, government should help provide shelter and economic and social programs that uphold and enhance the dignity of homeless persons. Such action would offer real opportunities for a better life and to remedy the deeper causes of homelessness.”

Archbishop Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief in this case and has long advocated for federal investments in safe, decent, and affordable housing along with homelessness services.