VATICAN – Legalizing gambling fuels addictions, creating more and more compulsive gamblers, and using the industry as a source of tax revenue is unethical, said a major Vatican office.
Published in International

OTTAWA – A popular and charismatic priest, Fr. Joe LeClair, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing parish funds to pay for a gambling addiction, has returned to ministry in Ottawa.

Published in Canada

More than 50 faith leaders, including Sault Ste. Marie Bishop Marcel Damphousse, have banded together to oppose a $60 million casino project on the eastern edge of Greater Sudbury.

Published in Canada

There is no hiding the fact that gambling is a popular pastime amongst adults. Whether it be betting on sports, purchasing lotto tickets or visiting a casino, the gambling world is vast. But what most people don’t realize is that gambling has also become a rising problem with the younger generation.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

OTTAWA - A popular Ottawa priest who admitted last year to a gambling addiction was charged July 3 with one count each of theft, fraud, criminal breach of trust and laundering the proceeds of crime.

Fr. Joe LeClair, 55, will appear in court July 25 to answer the charges related to the financial administration of Blessed Sacrament parish in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood.

The Ottawa Police Organized Fraud investigation allege more than $240,000 in parish cheques were "misappropriated by the parish priest, Joseph LeClair," according to a July 3 news release, and "over $160,000 in cash revenues were unaccounted for." The investigation reviewed parish finances from January 2006 to May 2011.

Published in Canada

Citing the addictive and potentially destructive nature of gambling, Cardinal Thomas Collins has expressed “real concerns” about an Ontario government proposal to open more casinos and slot machines and to take its lottery business online.

“We need to be very, very careful about expanding gambling, because it can cause great social problems,” Collins said. “We already have many stresses upon families, and gambling can add to that. Gambling can deprive families of the money they need to survive, but it also can deprive families of the presence of a member, perhaps a parent.”

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

An indisputable fact about casinos is that they hurt people. Not all people, of course, and perhaps not even the majority of people. But as sure as a roulette wheel spins, the casino business causes personal harm to land on some gamblers.

An important duty of government is to protect its citizens. We spend billions of dollars on such safety nets as policing, social programs and health care because society accepts a collective responsibility to look out for one another and then entrusts government to implement policies to make that happen. So it stands to reason that governments should not be supporting any type of high-stakes gambling business that can harm citizens.

Published in Editorial

OTTAWA - The Ottawa archdiocese has asked police to investigate the finances of a parish that had been led by a charismatic priest who admitted last spring to a gambling addiction.

In a Sept. 18 letter distributed to parishioners at Blessed Sacrament parish in Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood,  Ottawa Vicar General Msgr. Kevin Beach said an independent audit of church finances found “questionable practices that require further investigation.”

Beach had no further comment on the matter, but a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said he will answer questions after the 11 a.m. Mass Sept. 25 at Blessed Sacrament.

Published in Canada

Fr. Joe LeClair of Ottawa's Blessed Sacrament parish

OTTAWA - The Ottawa archdiocese confirmed it had launched an audit of the finances of Blessed Sacrament parish “some weeks” before two front-page stories appeared in the Ottawa Citizen April 16-17 raising questions about the lifestyle of its popular pastor.

The Citizen reported that Fr. Joe Le Clair had cash advances from the Lac-Leamy Casino across the Ottawa River in Quebec of more than $137,000 in 2009-2010, and incurred a credit card debt of more than $490,000 in that time period. It reported Le Clair had repaid Visa $424,000. 

“How he could afford to repay that much is not known, other than the fact that as a Church pastor, Le Clair earns a net salary of $24,400,” journalists Meghan Hurley and Andrew Duffy wrote.

Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., in a statement issued April 16, said stories about Le Clair’s “lifestyle” were brought to the attention of diocesan authorities in late 2010 and early 2011. He instructed his Vicar General, Msgr. Kevin Beach, to “clarify the issues raised by the stories.”

Published in Canada