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Problem gamblers are to be helped by the Catholic Church
Horseshoe Casino Cleveland’s recent opening spurred to action the diocesan committee and it seeks to teach deacons, clergy, parishioners and lay ministers how to recognize and help the problem gamblers in need of assistance. When on Monday a small group of priests met in Parma, at a Jesuit retreat house, the campaign began.
Rita Mary Harwood, a sister and a parish life ministry’s diocese director, wasn’t familiar with gambling and in order to serve as a committee member decided she would need to learn the subject. She then took $20 and travelled near Erie, Pa to Presque Isle Downs and Casino, immediately before in May the Horseshoe began operations.
At the slot machines within minutes the novice won $84 departed as a winner. However, the things rarely go that well.
At Recovery Resources in Cleveland, Jennifer Clegg, the gambling addiction program supervisor informed the priests that throughout the U.S. problematic gamblers are considered to be only 4% of people and the state of pathology is reached only by 1.5 percent. Yet, this sums up tens of thousands from Ohio whose lives, finances and relationships are damaged severely.
According to the statement from the church, when gambling impairs the people’s ability to provide for others and themselves, it leads to enslavement on a spiritual level.
The Reverend Joseph Koopman, teaching at St. Mary Seminary moral theology says, that professional help should be offered by priests who through confessions sense that someone is experiencing serious problems. Also, penitents can be helped by the clergy at clarifying whether they are social gamblers or merely addicts.
“Are you lying, pulling from your need or bringing danger to your family?”, was asked by him at a retreat house. “In the confessional these are all simple questions we could ask.”
The chairman of the pastoral theology department and rector of the seminary, the Reverent Mark Latcovich, said that those who are wrestling with alienation and guilt should be reminded by the priests that nobody is perfect and that even though they are unable to forgive themselves, god forgives them.
“God didn’t abandon the sinner” he said. “Jesus still loves us.”
The priests were asked by Clegg what at the mention of gambling first comes to mind. The immediate reply from someone was, “Bingo”.
Various forms of gambling, including bingo have been eliminated by some churches, but in order to run schools and parishes others still rely on gaming revenues, was said in an interview by Gerald Arnold, the diocesan Controller. Other ways of raising money must be introduced by members and pastors, he said, should they want to banish the games of chance.
In Northeast Ohio, Gamblers Anonymous needs sites for meetings, added Harwood. She asked the priest to host Gam-Anon, which is for persons affected by other gamblers, and the support group.