Churchgoers will be told about the scheme, called 'scratch and win', during masses this weekend after it was announced on a flyer affixed to the door of San Martino in Cigola, near Brescia, Corriere Della Sera reported.
“We all know we need help,” read the flyer. “So with a smile and without making givers uncomfortable or inviting the moralizing of theologians, we're willing to give this a shot.”
The cash-strapped church's decision has been motivated by its need to find funds to maintain the nursery while repairing the church's roof and oratory.
But parish priest, Father Abramo, reacted angrily to local media publishing stories about the church's novel idea. “We're not looking for publicity,” he told a journalist from Corriere. “This is an initiative we want to keep local.”
As news circulated, the initiative drew criticism from Viviana Beccalossi, a Lombardy councillor.
“There are priests across Italy who call gambling the drug of the new millennium and others who in the name of Our Lord Money have decided to ask parishioners for scratch cards.”
A study published by the Economist in October said that thanks to its booming gambling industry, Italy now has one third of all the world's games machines and one fifth of all its scratch cards.
Last year Italian gamblers lost €17.2 billion to bookmakers, creating misery for thousands, yet in spite of this the desperate parish of San Martino is willing to give it a go.
But then again, they do say the Lord works in mysterious ways.