Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 26, 2005
Bishops thank K of C for cutting casinos
Dec. 19, 2005
As your bishops we want to commend you for adopting the threefold 2004 resolution: not to sponsor or work at casinos to raise funds for any charitable initiatives not currently undertaken or committed to; to replace or withdraw existing casino funding to any of their projects in a timetable and manner that minimizes the charitable impact of current commitments; and to strongly urge affiliated clubs and societies to adopt policies and resolution with similar intention.
We are also pleased to learn of the progress that has been made to creatively implement alternative fundraising ventures that are not morally problematic.
For our part we have encouraged pastors and parishes and various diocesan offices/initiatives to free councils of the Knights of Columbus from previously made commitments in order to facilitate disengagement from gambling. We either have or are in the process of weaning ourselves from all dependency on gambling revenues.
We would also like to reiterate the teaching from our 1998 pastoral letter on gambling, the False Eden of Gambling, as gambling reflects neither Gospel values nor Christian inspiration as too many marriages and families have been hurt or destroyed by the practice.
To witness to the teachings and values of Jesus Christ requires sound moral reflection and judgment. This is especially true in our technological world where there is an ever-increasing danger of reducing persons to objects. Given that there are so many worthwhile projects and so few monetary resources, the revenues from casinos can look like a "gift."
Nevertheless, we must adhere to the moral principle that "the end does not justify the means," nor can we allow ourselves to become accomplices in promoting the proliferation of evil within our communities.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church succinctly expresses Catholic teaching as follows:
"Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant" (no. 2413).
In our culture, until very recently, there was societal consensus that lotteries (including various pools), should be restricted as much as possible but modest betting was not considered illicit. In fact, sharing in lotteries and raffles for charitable causes with proper motivation was considered a good work. There is nothing wrong with "fun money" events where the focus is on entertainment and community and not profit.
However, the landscape of our society is changing rapidly and we are witnessing the growth of a "culture of gambling." One of the major engines driving this culture is the emergence of the casino and the lure of easy money.
Casinos tend to cannibalize local economies, prompting job losses in other sectors and inhibiting economic development by redirecting discretionary spending away from established businesses, traditional charities and alternative forms of entertainment.
The gambling industry promotes the "product" to consumers and to maximize revenues. The only way to do this on an ongoing basis is to recruit new players, broaden the base of charitable volunteer workers, and/or generate more usage among existing players. The marketing strategy is based on greed. In addition to being unabashedly materialistic, the advertising of gambling tends to be exploitive.
Studies indicate that gambling attracts a disproportionate number of welfare recipients, pensioners and working poor, who see it as a way to end their financial worries.
The emergence of casino gambling is not a good news story. As disciples of Jesus we are called to be salt and light and leaven in our society, at times counter-cultural, and concerned about the overall quality of life in Alberta/NWT.
To solve the challenges facing the charitable sector requires a willingness to question the status quo, look at problems from a different perspective, and risk trying new solutions. In short, a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship and partnership is called for. Although there is still much to be done, we applaud and thank you for your leadership and the modelling of responsible stewardship.
Vicar-General of Grouard-McLennan
Lawrence Huculak, osbm
Denis Croteau, omi
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