Pell's message of support for chronic gamblers

Launching a NSW Government-sponsored Centacare gamblers' help initiative, Sydney's Cardinal George Pell said he believes gambling can be a "harmless and pleasant exercise", so long as it brings no harm to the person and their family.

The Catholic Weekly reports he added that if that person's pastime spirals out of control, the hurt that can be caused can be "very considerable".

"I've seen that myself, as every priest has".

The cardinal was speaking at Parliament House in Sydney to launch Hotelcare, a government-sponsored initiative of Centacare and the Australian Hotels Association to provide specialised counselling to people with a gambling problem or gambling addiction.

Although this was the official launch, 1600 people have already been part of the program with positive results and only two have withdrawn, which Bernard Boerma, chief executive officer of Centacare says is an "outstanding success".

Grant McBride, NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing, launched the program with the cardinal. He said problem gambling can only be solved in partnership with the government, the industry and the community.

"What we've got now is a network that stretches right across NSW to deal with this issue, which is important as this problem cuts across all social strata," he said.

Mr Boerma said that the hold over the gamblers can be as powerful as that of any drug.

Cardinal Pell said he was "very grateful to the government, the AHA and Centacare for combining on this very useful venture" and praised Centacare for its work and growth over 40 years.

Pictured: Grant McBride, Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Cardinal George Pell launch Hotelcare.

Help for chronic gamblers (Catholic Weekly 29/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Sydney
Centacare Sydney

Cardinal Pell Endorses HotelCare (Australian Hotels Association NSW 17/5/05)
Cathedral fire man 'mentally ill' (The Australian/Australian Associated Press 26/5/05) | Cardinal George Pell: Problem Gambling (Sunday Telegraph 22/5/05)

27 May 2005