By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ban not in the cards, or facts not in the press?

Sigh. It is often said that we need to be careful not automatically to believe everything we read or see in the media. This is certainly the case with respect to the media reports that greeted me this morning pertaining to our policy on gambling as it relates to our Catholic schools. To take but one example, the front page headline in today’s Edmonton Journal reads “Gambling ban not in the cards”. It may be an attempt at a clever play on words, but it is certainly not true. The policy that is being put into place regarding the receipt of revenues from harmful gambling activities stands and will not change.

Then we read that, according to the subtitle of the article, my October 1st deadline has been “thrown out” after I met with some officials from Edmonton Catholic schools. Again, this is inaccurate. It was particularly astounding to read it because, in the body of the article, reference is made to an op-ed piece I published in a recent issue of the same paper, where I explained clearly that, although the October 1st deadline was chosen as the effective date for a whole host of new diocesan policies, it did not immediately apply to our school divisions. The issue for our schools is complex, and I have made clear that I am willing to work with any affected school division to determine timelines for implementation. In other words, nothing has changed from what I have been saying all along.

One gets the impression from some of the media reports today that the school division is preparing to fight the policy. Very strange. The meeting with school officials yesterday was at my request, and its purpose was very modest, namely, a preliminary sharing of ideas for the implementation of the policy. It was a very good and helpful start to the process, and it is abundantly clear to me that the school board stands with me on this and understands the reason for the policy. Their concern is purely the practical one of how to implement it. To that end I have shared with them my commitment to work collaboratively with them to offer what assistance I can. How a very cordial and collaborative meeting was later translated into the media as something confrontational that resulted in some change on my part is a mystery to me.

So to those who are wondering as a result of the media coverage, nothing as regards the policy and the commitment to work out a timeline has changed. As I said in my last blog, we can sort this out and we shall.