The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Archbishop Pinder opposes legalized gambling

Just as with any decision a Government of a country makes, it may not please every citizen. So too does it apply with decisions made by our Religious leaders today. There have been recent noise "in da market" about the Archbishop of Nassau's (Most Rev'd Archbishop Patrick Pinder) decision to oppose legalized gambling (heat coming from both Catholics and Non-Catholics).

Unlike many Church leaders, in my opinion, the Catholic Church has always thought and researched before she spoke. It shocks me how so many of my fellow Catholic brothers and sisters treat the faith as if it is a buffet. You pull from it what you want to believe (some believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist, some thinks it's a symbol; some believe in Confession, others do not; some believe in marriage between man and woman, others can accept same sex marriage).

Clearly the Archbishop's response was carefully thought out as he explained the Church's stand on gambling and games of chance. The teachings can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CC2413). The Archbishop explains his reason to oppose the legalization of gambling in The Bahamas in his statement below:

“The Bahamian community is currently engaged in much discussion surrounding the possibility of the legalization of gambling. Surely this matter calls for much serious thought and research as part of an in-depth, national conversation. Such conversation is a necessary aspect of the formation of public policy in a strong democracy. I wish here to offer an initial contribution to that conversation.”
“The question of legalization of gambling is a challenging one for our Bahamian community as a whole. It is particularly challenging for our Roman Catholic community. At the risk of being quoted out of context, I must indicate at the outset the Church's longstanding tradition that games of chance are not in themselves morally evil. This finds official expression in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in these words: 'Games of chance or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice.' (CCC2413). It is on this basis that there is a well known practice of utilizing various games of chance, in particular raffles, as a staple feature of parish fund raising. "However, the same section of the Catechism goes on to say: '(Games of chance) become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs or those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming enslavement.' (CCC 2431).”
“Our Catholic tradition recognized that while gambling is not inherently evil there is the tendency of human nature to go to excess and to extremes. Thus what may be harmless in the beginning can, without proper restraints become quite harmful later on. The wisdom of the law as it now stands seems to understand this reality. The law as it now stands appears intended to exercise an abundance of necessary caution for the good of individuals and the community as a whole.”

“Permitting the harmless use of games of chance while protecting against their harmful excess is indeed the value which the current law appears to protect and promote. As such, I as the leader of the Roman Catholic community in the Bahamas do not support a change in the current law which would allow the legalization of gambling.”

“I realize that this is not a simple matter. While raffles are closely regulated by law, we do have the widespread breach of the legal prohibition of gambling in the case of the illegal numbers industry. Surely, we cannot simply pretend that this situation does not exist. Nor can public authority tolerate the routine violation of the law. Here we need to come together as a community to reflect on the values which the current law seeks to protect and foster. We need to explore why there is such widespread gambling in violation of the law. What is it telling us about our character as a people? How are we to address this stubborn reality for the good of us all? Should we not be encouraging our people to save rather than to gamble? What alternatives are there to the wholesale repeal of the current law?”

“Clearly this matter calls for further discussion. I am not convinced that a mere liberalizing change in the law is the most wise or beneficial course to follow."

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