Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Bettin' Bishop

Bishop Tobin of Providence cops to enjoying the occasional wager as a controversial referendum on sanctioning casinos looms in Rhode Island.

"In the interest of full disclosure it should be noted that Yours Truly has been known to participate in a little gambling on occasion," wrote the bishop in an article to be published today in the diocesan newspaper The Providence Visitor.

"I buy raffle tickets to support a local parish or school. I participate in friendly football pools. I've won and lost (usually lost) a few bucks on the golf course. And on a few occasions, I've even made a pilgrimage to Foxwoods, paying my tithe to the slot machines."

In "self-defense," he added: "In light of my Irish-German heritage and very frugal nature, both the time and money spent there are always strictly limited."

In an interview yesterday, the bishop said he opted for "full disclosure" because he "wanted people to know I am not a puritan or prude when it comes to these activities" and also to "humanize" his layered view of where the church stands on gambling, in general, and the "vague" casino proposal headed for the Nov. 7 ballot.

The bishop, a native of Pittsburgh and a huge Steelers fan who acknowledged betting "a few bucks a week" on football pools, said: "Gambling is a very sensitive topic for Catholics.

"We realize there are moral concerns about gambling, but still we play bingo, sell raffle tickets, have parish festivals with games of chance, and organize trips to Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Are sins being commited every time these activities take place? I don't think so."

The bishop said the church does not view all gambling as immoral, and only views it as such when it becomes a form of addiction, involves "excessive amounts of money," and leads to crime, corruption and "collateral damage to individuals, families or communities."

We can only wonder if Tobin bet on the volleyball matches (that is, if there were any) at the seminarian barbeque he hosted a couple weeks back....