To better understand the relevance of the author of the column favorable to the legalization of gaming within the Church, it is worth mentioning that in 2014, Pope Francisco himself appointed Catelan Ferreira to join the International Theological Commission for five years and is the only Brazilian Monseigneur who integrates this select group.
The Commission is composed of theologians from various schools and nations, eminent for scientific excellence and fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church. The members, no more than thirty in number, are appointed by the Holy Father "ad quinquennium", based on the proposal of the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and after consulting the Episcopal Conferences.
Here is the full text of the column that Catelan Ferreira and professor da FGV, Pedro Trengrouse, wrote for O Globo:
Gambling, or games of chance, after all, if one loses, another wins, were banned in Brazil in 1946, without any discussion in Congress, through a decree-law issued by then-President Eurico Gaspar Dutra, still in force of the Constitution of 1937, extremely authoritarian and legal basis of the Estado Novo dictatorship. The main reason would have been the religious influence of his wife, Carmela Teles Leite Dutra, a fervent Catholic, also known as Dona Santinha. The paradox is that the Catholic Church, despite worrying about potential harmful effects, is not, and has never been, against gambling.
In Portugal, since 1783, the Santa Casa is operator and beneficiary of the gaming sector in the country. Its annual revenue with bets exceeds € 3 billion. In Italy, game resources helped to erect St Peter's Basilica. In the United States, gaming props have helped churches, schools, and universities like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. In Brazil, the Holy House of Rio Grande do Sul received funds from lotteries, and many important works were built with gambling money, such as Santa Casa do Rio de Janeiro and Bonfim Church in Salvador. In addition, many churches, from different religions, in Brazil and in the world, organize bingos, draws, and other games regularly for the most diverse purposes.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 2,413) clearly deals with the subject: "Games of chance itself are not contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive a person of what is necessary to them to meet their needs and those of others. A passion for gambling runs the risk of becoming a serious dependency. Gambling unfairly or cheating in games is a serious matter unless the damage inflicted is so small that the sufferer can not reasonably consider it significant."
Religious arguments against gambling focus on their potentially harmful effects. So, wouldn’t be the best way to control, mitigate and avoid these possible harmful effects through an intelligent and efficient regulation to promote responsible gambling, treatment of people vulnerable to addiction, protection of the integrity of results, the people's economy and bettors?
In the world, it is estimated that between 0.2% and 3% the number of people prone to some gambling-related disorder. In Brazil, the annual movement of regulated and unregulated games exceeds US$ 13.5 billion - capitalization bonds, 44%; federal lotteries, 30%; state lotteries, 0.7%; turf, 0.6%; sports betting, 8%; jogo do bicho, 6%; casinos, 6%; and bingos, 4.7%. The omission of the authorities and the absence of appropriate regulation open the door to the proliferation of illegal gambling, which runs wild in the country, in the hands of organized crime, offshore sites and with much worse harmful effects.
In practice, whoever is against legal gambling is in favor of illegal gambling. Brazil can not continue without adequate public policies for the development of the gaming sector with the proper network of social protection and efficient regulation that allows the responsible game to reach its full potential of generating employment and income in the country without losing sight of the legitimate concerns religious, which are mainly human and social.
Pedro Trengrouse is a professor of FGV and certified in casino regulation by the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Antonio Luiz Catelan Ferreira is Monsignor, member of the International Theological Commission and professor of Theology at PUC-Rio