Nuns' soup kitchen draws neighbors' ire

April 5, 2013 at 1:42 PM

MIAMI, April 5 (UPI) -- The soup kitchen of Miami's Missionaries of Charity will keep feeding the poor despite its lack of a permit, city officials said.

Days after the city accused the mission, founded 30 years ago by Mother Teresa, of not obtaining proper permits to distribute food, several city officials announced the operation would not be shut down, The Miami Herald reported Thursday.

"I'm not going to close that place. They will have the certificate of use they need by Monday," Miami Code Compliance Director Orlando Diez said.

A warning was sent by the city to the nuns of the mission, the newspaper El Nuevo Herald reported, earlier in the week, but Thursday a lawyer working on behalf of the nuns delivered documents to the city of Miami showing a special permit was obtained in 1982 to carry out their work, The Miami Herald said.

"The activities of the nuns and the mission will not be interfered with," said lawyer Tom Equels, who represents the mission with his wife Laura. "It's very important to both of us that the mission, and the purpose of the mission, established by Mother Teresa, be honored or continued."

The city issued its warning after some neighbors who live in the nearby Claude Pepper Tower, a public housing complex for the elderly, complained about the lines of homeless people who wait outside the mission every day.

"What many people do not understand is that it gets very aggressive, that there are 300 people blocking the sidewalk, and that many residents of Claude Pepper are afraid of the homeless," said Commissioner Wifredo "Willy" Gort, who represents the area.

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