Monday, June 26, 2006

Place Your Bets, Place Your Bickering....

From the Great White North, there brews a battle royal over Catholic school money-raising in Calgary:
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.

Yesterday, school principals were called to an emergency meeting to discuss the threats, but the board of trustees announced that it will not -- and cannot -- bend to the will of their spiritual leader.

"We would prefer that no school would have to do fundraising," Cathie Williams, chairwoman of the board, told reporters.

But the board, which serves 44,000 students in the region, relies on about $2-million in revenue generated from casinos and bingo to pay for programs such as drama, band, athletics and field trips, and to subsidize low-income families. "The board has chosen to light a candle rather than curse the darkness," Ms. Williams said.