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From Cardinal SeŠnís blog

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Catholic University of America Gala Dinner. I never thought that I would live long enough to visit Las Vegas. I was surprised when it was announced that Catholic University would be having their annual fundraising dinner there. As a cardinal, a member of the board of directors and an alumnus of the university, I felt it important that I participate in this event that raises 1 million dollars for student scholarships at that fine institution.

Las Vegas is certainly an unusual place, being an oasis of hotels and casinos in the middle of a desert. Father Brian [Bachand] and I arrived in Las Vegas at 11 p.m. on Thursday, and the airport was packed with people. It is also full of slot machines. I thought we had landed in the casino! Of course, people were very curious to see two priests getting off the plane.

I have always publicly opposed casino gambling, not that gambling is of itself sinful, but the great harm that can come from the addiction to gambling is a terrible evil. The economy that casinos generate is unhealthy, and often has a detrimental effect on public morality.

Prior to the benefit dinner, we had a beautiful Mass with a wonderful choir at the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer, which is right on the strip. The strip of hotels in Las Vegas is sort of an adult Disneyland. From the parking lot, you see the pyramid and the sphinx -- that is not in Egypt, that is in Las Vegas. When you walk down that street, you leave the pyramid behind and quickly come upon the Statue of Liberty. Then, you leave the Statue of Liberty and you are at the Eiffel Tower. Then, towards the end of the strip, you arrive at St. Markís Square, and you are in the middle of Venice with gondolas and all. It is quite a fantasyland.

The dinner and Mass for Catholic University were a great success. The Mass was well-attended by people who had come to the dinner as well as the local Catholic community. Many Catholics in Las Vegas are originally from the Philippines. There were some students at the dinner, and I spoke with them about the importance of Catholic education in their life. Some of them sang and performed for the guests. Many of the cardinals were there, the nuncio spoke and at the end of the meal I addressed the people to invite them to Boston next year -- the 2008 cardinalís dinner for Catholic University will be in Boston. Since it is our bicentennial year, it is a fitting time to host this event and to have all the cardinals visit our city. We have no strip or casinos in Boston, but I guess we will put our guests on the Duck boats ... lol.

Visiting the Little Sisters

of the Poor

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