Charities to establish permanent shelter for women

Julie Filby

To serve one of the most vulnerable populations in the Denver metro area, homeless single women, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver will open the city’s first long-term emergency center for women this month.

Homeless women make up 45 percent of the Denver’s homeless population comprised of 11,377 men, women and children, according to a policy brief by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in 2012.

“The United States has the largest number of homeless women among industrialized nations,” according to the brief, “and the highest number on record since the Great Depression.”

The shelter will open within an area of Charities’ existing Samaritan House—a shelter at 2301 Lawrence St. that serves 3,500 men, women and children each year. It will have capacity for 100 women and will be called Holy Rosary at Samaritan House. The permanent shelter will replace a temporary one established over the winter at Holy Rosary Church at 4688 Pearl St. in the Globeville neighborhood, near the Interstates 25 and 70 interchange.

“The zoning code around the current temporary shelter didn’t allow for a permanent shelter so we needed to find a new place by April 15,” said Geoff Bennett, vice president of shelter and community outreach services for Catholic Charities. “So we moved fast into finding a solution to shelter the women.”

The temporary shelter will close this spring. To provide the new shelter, Charities entered into an agreement with The Salvation Army to extend the Samaritan House men’s emergency overflow into The Salvation Army’s Crossroads Center. The Crossroads Center, located at 1901 29th St., is less than a mile from Samaritan House. It can accommodate up to 100 men per night.

“The Samaritan House emergency overflow program is not ending,” Bennett explained, “but instead is being continued at Crossroads Center. All the conveniences and amenities offered at Samaritan House to the men will be extended at Crossroads.”

Holy Rosary at Samaritan House will also absorb the Salvation Army’s Red Shield program which currently houses 30 women.

“We are very excited to be working with The Salvation Army to continue our men’s shelter services,” Bennett said, “while opening a long-term emergency overnight shelter for women.”

Samaritan House is unique, he added, in that it is able to accommodate women, men and families under one roof.

“That is not the case for the majority of the other shelters that mostly take men only,” he said.

Each year, Samaritan House provides 118,000 nights of shelter and serves 240,000 warm meals. It is one of Charities’ four shelters in the archdiocese—along with Father Ed Judy House in Denver, Guadalupe Community Shelter in Greeley and The Mission in Fort Collins—providing “love, safety, shelter, clothing, food and supportive services to help restore dignity, regain lost hope, and reclaim ownership of their lives and reintegrate into the community.”

Holy Rosary at Samaritan House will open April 15.

COMING UP: The Pell case: Developments down under

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In three weeks, a panel of senior judges will hear Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of the unjust verdict rendered against him at his retrial in March, when he was convicted of “historical sexual abuse.” That conviction did not come close to meeting the criterion of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is fundamental to criminal law in any rightly-ordered society. The prosecution offered no corroborating evidence sustaining the complainant’s charge. The defense demolished the prosecution’s case, as witness after witness testified that the alleged abuse simply could not have happened under the circumstances charged — in a busy cathedral after Mass, in a secured space.

Yet the jury, which may have ignored instructions from the trial judge as to how evidence should be construed, returned a unanimous verdict of guilty. At the cardinal’s sentencing, the trial judge never once said that he agreed with the jury’s verdict; he did say, multiple times, that he was simply doing what the law required him to do. Cardinal Pell’s appeal will be just as devastating to the prosecution’s case as was his defense at both his first trial (which ended with a hung jury, believed to have favored acquittal) and the retrial. What friends of the cardinal, friends of Australia, and friends of justice must hope is that the appellate judges will get right what the retrial jury manifestly got wrong.

That will not be easy, for the appellate judges will have been subjected to the same public and media hysteria over Cardinal Pell that was indisputably a factor in his conviction on charges demonstrated to be, literally, incredible. Those appellate judges will also know, however, that the reputation of the Australian criminal justice system is at stake in this appeal. And it may be hoped that those judges will display the courage and grit in the face of incoming fire that the rest of the Anglosphere has associated with “Australia” since the Gallipoli campaign in World War I.

In jail for two months now, the cardinal has displayed a remarkable equanimity and good cheer that can only come from a clear conscience. The Melbourne Assessment Prison allows its distinguished prisoner few visitors, beyond his legal team; but those who have gone to the prison intending to cheer up a friend have, in correspondence with me, testified to having found themselves cheered and consoled by Cardinal Pell — a man whose spiritual life was deeply influenced by the examples of Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More during Henry VIII’s persecution of the Church in 16th-century England. The impact of over a half-century of reflection on those epic figures is now being displayed to Cardinal Pell’s visitors and jailers, during what he describes as his extended “retreat.”

Around the world, and in Australia itself, calmer spirits than those baying for George Pell’s blood (and behaving precisely like the deranged French bigots who cheered when the innocent Captain Alfred Dreyfus was condemned to a living death on Devil’s Island) have surfaced new oddities — to put it gently — surrounding the Pell Case.

How is it, for example, that the complainant’s description of the sexual assault he alleges Cardinal Pell committed bears a striking resemblance — to put it gently, again — to an incident of clerical sexual abuse described in Rolling Stone in 2011? How is it that edited transcripts of a post-conviction phone conversation between the cardinal and his cathedral master of ceremonies (who had testified to the sheer physical impossibility of the charges against Pell being true) got into the hands (and thence into the newspaper writing) of a reporter with a history of anti-Pell bias and polemic? What is the web of relationships among the virulently anti-Pell sectors of the Australian media, the police in the state of Victoria, and senior Australian political figures with longstanding grievances against the politically incorrect George Pell? What is the relationship between the local Get Pell gang and those with much to lose from his efforts to clean up the Vatican’s finances?

And what is the state of serious investigative journalism in Australia, when these matters are only investigated by small-circulation journals and independent researchers?

An “unsafe” verdict in Australia is one a jury could not rationally have reached. Friends of truth must hope that the appellate judges, tuning out the mob, will begin to restore safety and rationality to public life Down Under in June.

Featured image by CON CHRONIS/AFP/Getty Images