Friday, June 23, 2006


To many Catholics, bingo is Holy Mother Church's unofficial eighth sacrament. And one that certainly garners more respect than confession, which hardly anybody goes to these days, and even Holy Communion, which people mustn't be going to without confession.

Hence the uproar that will ensue with Bishop Fred Henry's latest missive:

A battle for the moral high ground has erupted in Calgary, where the city's influential Roman Catholic bishop has issued a damning indictment of the local school board's decision to continue to use gambling as a source of fundraising for its cash-strapped schools.

In a letter sent this week to each of the 97 schools in the Calgary Catholic School District, Bishop Fred Henry threatened "blacklisting" of schools that engage in "immoral fundraising, as well as stripping them of their Catholic designation, and announced that he won't preside at the liturgy to open the school year.

"It is morally wrong for a Catholic institution to formally co-operate in an industry that exploits the weak and the vulnerable," he wrote. "The end does not justify the means."

The letter does not spell out what blacklisting entails. However, it is believed that it would include local pastors withdrawing their services from the schools, said Jeremy Simms, chief superintendent of the school district.

The school board wouldn't listen to His Grace if he had condemned them for actively teaching against the faith in other matters. Modern Catholic school boards couldn't care less about the Catholic faith, in the main; they are more the domain for so-called "cultural Catholics."

But being damned for running bingos and casino nights is going to scorch them because it hits them where their members' consciences reside these days: the pocketbook.

Source: Globe and Mail

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