Friday, June 23, 2006

Catholic bishop says all bets are off : Catholic bishop says all bets are off

There’s a potential controversy brewing Calgary’s Catholic community. For several decades now, the Calgary Seperate school board, essentially a Catholic organization, has used casinos and bingos as a way of fundraising for needed school supplies and events. Prior to the current noise made by Calgary’s Bishop Fred Henry, the Catholic hierarchy in Calgary to not notice, or not care, that Catholic schools were fundraising using an addictive activity that is seriously frowned upon by the Catholic Church.

There are issues where I take exception Bishop Henry’s view, and I’ve expressed that publically a few times through letters to the editor. But in most cases, he is a man who sticks to a well defined principle for his views, and that shows through here, IMO.
Now, I am someone who enjoys the odd game of blackjack or poker, but I would never presume to think I was being Christian while I was doing it. What surprises me most about this is that its taken so long to come to a head … gambling didn’t become a sinful activity yesterday, and for many years, the Catholic community in Calgary has been using the wages of that sin.

What surprises me is that the Catholic schools ever came up with this idea in the first place. The arguement against the Bishop is that the revenue earned from gambling is required for the efficient running of the schools, and its hard to argue with the numbers. The Bishop isn’t handing out wads of cash to offset the casinos he says should stop, so perhaps there’s a valid concern about what to do without the ill-gotten gains. But thats just it … I can’t imagine how they got to this point of depending on gambling money to survive.

When that decision was made to do casinos and bingos, how was it made? What moral principle allowed the church-run schools to decide that gambling was a good revenue generater? I can’t imagine the same thing happening with other immoral things … can anyone else see the church deciding to sell alchohol, or run a strip club, to generate cash? I can’t, and I wonder how a group of Catholics decided that gambling was a proper way to raise funds for their children’s education.

I gotta say, Bishop Henry is bang on for this one. The startling thing is that he had to say anything at all and that people are fighting it. Its as if someone were saying to the Pope “but we don’t care about your moral issues with contraception, its required.” Its the job of non-Catholics to point that out, IMO … a Catholic is beholden to their Pope or Bishop to come up with a better excuse than mamon. “I needed the money” strikes me as an especially poor justification for profiting from sin, especially when talking about the education of children.


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