Ugly Laws!

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The City of Big Shoulders, a.k.a. Chicago, Illinois, was the last major city to have an “Ugly Law.” 

It states: “No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object, or an improper person to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places in this city, shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view, under a penalty of not less than $1 nor more than $50 for each offense.”

Chicago’s  “Ugly Law”  was enacted in the wake of the panic of 1873 that attempted to eradicate street begging in general by specifically targeting beggars and others with disabilities.

Chicago didn’t repeal its “Ugly Law” banning people deemed “diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed” from public spaces until 1974.  I was 31-years old in 1974. I guess I was fortunate to have not been picked up and fined before then in Chicago.  

In the Gospel, Jesus says,  “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”  (Luke 14:13-14). 

How is Jesus’ Law of Love different than the Law of the Streets is a big city? 

Tomorrow, July 25th, is World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly as established by Pope Francis. Please do a little something special tomorrow for YOUR Grandparents, be they living or departed. Dig out a picture of them and offer a prayer. Give a call or visit an elderly person who YOU know to be lonely. 


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