Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 26, 2004
Casavant rolls snake eyes for casinos
Catholics must walk their spiritual talk no matter what the cost
By GLEN ARGAN
State deputy Mickey Casavant deserves high praise for telling the Knights of Columbus in Alberta that their casino fundraising days are over. To some, it might seem obvious that the Knights should pull the plug on casinos. After all, the Alberta bishops six years ago wrote that "anything that contributes significantly to addictive forms of gambling . . . should be banned or substantially altered in order to diminish the addictive power."
It is only reasonable that the Knights, who frequently proclaim solidarity with our priests and bishops, should put an end to their involvement in casinos. One may ask why it took six years to do so.
The fact that it did take six years shows that there is considerable reluctance within the order to abandoning this lucrative fundraiser. Casavant deserves full credit for standing up to those who want to continue on the gravy train while turning away from the destruction that addictive gambling is wreaking on the families of addicted gamblers across this province.
One can hope and pray that a couple of things will come of this.
First, that the Knights' withdrawal from casinos will be a light to others, including the Alberta government. Our provincial government is the main addict - addicted to gambling revenues to fund its activities and to avoid raising funds from morally palatable sources. It has managed to quiet potential dissension by getting non-profit groups across the province to buy into gambling as a major fundraiser. No group that has casinos as a major source of revenue is likely to protest the government's obscene involvement in and promotion of gambling.
Now that the Knights have so publicly broken the veil of silence on gambling, may other non-profit groups do the same. Next should be the Catholic school parent councils that are using casinos to pay for supposed "extras" not strictly necessary to education. The councils should be up front with the government. If there are renovations or items necessary to ensuring quality education, they should be paid for out of the province's general revenues. If such wants are nice but not necessary, why are Catholic schools profiting from an activity that has led to so much personal tragedy?
One can hope that this will become a movement of non-profit groups across Alberta that will force the government to stop the insane expansion of casinos now taking place.
Second, the end of K of C casinos should renew the order itself. Too many councils are sitting on big pots of money garnered through the avails of gambling - hardly the vision Father Michael McGivney had for the order. He wanted to help widows and orphans, not create them. The order can only benefit from getting rid of that cash and turning its efforts from fundraising to building up the community and the Church.
Other articles in this special section of the WCR show that some K of C councils have done just that and have accomplished marvellous things. May such efforts become even more widespread. The Knights of Columbus is an order of Catholic men based on charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. Charity is a concept much broader than giving money to groups or individuals in need.
By cutting the Alberta K of C's ties with casinos, Casavant has shown himself to be a modern-day prophet. His decision will bear good fruit for decades to come.
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