Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Call To Come Home To The Church--Sort Of

Catholic dioceses plan TV ad blitz aimed at inactive members
By Duke Helfand Los Angeles Times / September 13, 2009

LOS ANGELES - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento is home to nearly 1 million Catholics. On a typical Sunday, less than 137,000 can be found in church.

Now, using a strategy straight from the secular playbook, its leaders hope to lure back those who have drifted. (It's the strategy of one particular secular playbook.)

The diocese and nearly a dozen others are preparing to air several thousand primetime TV commercials in English and Spanish, inviting inactive Catholics to return to their religious roots.
In addition to Sacramento, dioceses in Chicago, Omaha, Providence, and four other cities will launch the “Catholics Come Home’’ advertising blitz during Advent, the period before Christmas.
Four more dioceses will follow during Lent next spring.

“I’m hoping that a significant number of people will give us another look,’’ Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto said of the campaign. “Many Catholics have a sense of believing but not always a sense of belonging.’’(Maybe that's because our fellow conservative Catholics are fond of telling us to leave 'their' Church.

The potential audience is huge. About one-quarter of US Catholics say they attend Mass every week, and a majority go to religious services a few times a year or less, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, which conducts social science research about the Catholic church. (This huge audience is also appealing to another particular political group.)

Researchers there also found that two-thirds of Catholics believe they can be good members of their faith without attending Mass regularly.

Inactive Catholics cite a number of reasons for their absence. Many do not believe that missing Mass is a sin, the center reported. Others say they are too busy with family or work, or, as other analysts point out, are more interested in material happiness than spiritual fulfillment.

“There is a strange pattern of people who aren’t practicing but still have beliefs and pick up parts of the faith,’’ said Mark Gray, a research associate with the center. “They may give up meat on Fridays during Lent or attend Ash Wednesday services.’’

Most people raised Catholic remain so in adulthood, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which released a study on religious affiliation in April. Pew researchers found that those who leave typically join Protestant churches or abandon religion altogether, with most saying they simply drifted away from their faith or stopped believing in its teachings.

Many who have given up their religion also said they felt unhappy with Catholicism’s firm positions on abortion, birth control, and homosexuality. The movement of some Catholics into the ranks of the unaffiliated, a trend also evident among other religious groups, is occurring even as the Catholic Church in the United States grows steadily, due largely to an influx of Catholic immigrants, primarily from Latin America and Asia.

The new arrivals have helped push the US Catholic population to more than 65 million, making it the nation’s largest religious group. Catholics account for nearly 1 of every 4 Americans.
(And non practicing Catholics account for nearly 1 of every 10 Americans.)


The Bishop of Sacramento is Jaimie Soto. I suppose it's just a coincidence that Bishop Soto is on the board of directors of Catholics Come Home. Other members on the board of Catholics Come Home have ties to EWTN, St. Francis of Stuebenville OH, The Legionares, Opus Dei, and Tom Monaghan's Legatus. One of the comments associated with the above article asked a very pertinent question, "What Church are we being asked to come home to?" Apparently it's the one that's trying to kick us out and/or make us vote Republican.)

When I first saw the headline to this article I actually thought some bishop was taking the exodus of Catholics out of the Church seriously, actively trying to welcome home disenfranchised Catholics. I no longer think that. The commercials are slick, I'll give them credit for that. They site statistics which show a 12% increase in Mass attendance in the Diocese of Phoenix AZ after the commercials were run last year. Did I mention that Bishop Ohlmstead of Phoenix is also on their board of directors?

Here's some of their reasoning for the importance of this effort:

The number of Americans identifying themselves as non-religious/secular increased 110% from 1990 to 2000. It is now 13.2% of the total population. Comparing this statistic with the previous one, non-religious-secular individuals outnumber active, Mass attending Catholics by 58% (13.2% vs. 7.59%). Imagine the negative impact these individuals have on culture and public policy. Have I mentioned that FOX news is featured prominently in their video clips?

As many as 100,000 baptized Catholics in the U.S. drift away from Church each year.
One-third to one-half of Catholic marriages now ends in divorce.

72% of Catholics have not tried to win a convert to Christ. Have I mentioned that a significant number of their contributors are converts from Evangelical protestantism?

For every four Protestants, there is one convert. For Catholics, the numbers were 250 to one. That is about one convert for every 807 Catholics. (Maybe there's a message here.)

If every Catholic brought one person into the Church each year, it would only take only three years to be a totally Catholic society. And the purpose of this would be what, to form a de facto Catholic theocracy a long lines dictated by the Republican party?

Should you care to look over their site, you will find that on their shopping page are the products of a number of the men who have made of themselves a cottage industry due to their association with EWTN and Regent Radio. The best thing that ever happened for these guys is Mother Angelica's stroke. They don't have to compete with her anymore.

This is not a call to come home to the Vatican II church most of us called home. This is a call to come home to the Church of the American theo con right. Thanks but no thanks.


  1. Catholics Come Home--if you are middle class or wealthier, straight, Republican, accept male dominance, not divorced and remarried, capable and willing to procreate,--let's see what have I forgotten?

  2. Come back and regress, and be treated as if I have never met Christ, treated as if I were to be molded in their image and likeness of a rabid fundamentalist right wing republican filled with selfishness, ignorance and hatred..... NO Thanks!!

    Jesus likes just where I am.

  3. If the Catholic Church desires to be considered "Truthful" then the hierarchy needs to get Truthful! They are not being truthful when it comes to Church History, the history of the institutional Church as documented by Hans Kung. There is no such thing as infallibility when it comes to men making decisions that are not infallible.

    I could go on and on about the pedophiles and seminaries in which supposed "celibate" priests prey on the innocent and the Bishops and Popes who ALLOW it to go on and try to keep it a secret!

    The secrets are out of the bag and until the Church hierarchy starts behaving like Christ, I really want nothing to do with the Institution of the Catholic Church. They have taken Jesus Christ out of the Church and it is fast becoming very unlike Christ with Sisters being investigated, Sisters forbidden to teach who believe in women priests, women Catholics who have expressed their opinions in public newspapers banned from even volunteering to teach about the Old Testament....etc.

    The men in the Church hierarchy are not following Jesus Christ. They are following the money. Period.

  4. Butterfly: Jesus likes just where I am.

    Excellent point. That reminds me a bit of the sermon Bishop Gumbleton gave recently (I read it at NCR) about keeping the body of Christ together. He noted that many who leave seem to do so because, for them, the experience of Jesus is now lying outside the church.

    And that seems very true--and sad. Sad that those leading the church aren't asking in what way their behavior is a countersign to Jesus and the gospels for quite a few of us.

  5. It seems to me that if this invitation to come home is some sort of effort at reconciliation, then doesn't the inviter say and promise what is going to be different?

  6. I remember when it was called Re-membering Church which created the image of reuniting all the parts of the Body of Christ. Now it is more like "You can come home if you follow all the rules."

  7. "Sad that those leading the church aren't asking in what way their behavior is a countersign to Jesus and the gospels for quite a few of us."

    Bill, It is not just their behavior, which I believe is immature & not spiritual, it is the laws (unproven theological opinions about sex, women and about gays) that were put in place that are man-made judgments that should be changed and the demands they put on others which are extreme & unChrist-like, while they exonerate themselves and condemn others. It is the lack of truth within their laws. The only law that should exist is to "love one another." Their laws and opinions do away with love itself.

    Politics in the Church does not equate to Love and there is much more politics in the Church than there is love. That is the big problem. The politics prevents the love.

    Jesus likes just where I am. I know He is present where I am. Being Catholic does not leave the soul or a spirit of a person because they are not in the Church pew anymore. Jesus is not confined either to loving those in the pew or in the pulpit.

    Wildhair, there is no attempt at reconciliation on the Church's part here that I can gather from what I read or in the video. It is one-sided and selfish in an attempt to bring back some people to the Church. Those who might venture back will be expected to reconcile themselves to the Church and do whatever penance that the authorities decide for them. They will Lord it over them with their authority, their opinions, their laws, their desires for their own selfish political interests, which has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and everything to do with their desires for more power and glory to themselves.

    word verification is weepi

  8. butterfly, I agree that there is nothing of reconciliation in this.

    You do not have to look beyond this blog to find that out. A volunteer religion teacher is fired for writing a letter to the editor. A call by Richard McBrian to have a serious discussion around ten issues concerning the present state of the Catholic clergy will not be heeded during this so called "Year of the Priest." And on and on.

    It's just more of: "My way or the highway."

    If the bishops were serious about welcoming 31 million former Catholics back, they might be more humble, discover the reasons people are leaving, and begin to apologize for their part in driving people from the church. I don't see that happening.

  9. The problem with the Catholics Come Home campaign is that it is not a product of the USCCB. It is a product of the same laity and same bishops who have been getting their bread buttered by the same right wing money and who are beholden to the rightwing evangelical converts who now run EWTN.

    Until people really understand the this 'official' voice of American Catholicism is no more official than Rush Limbaugh is for the Republican party, there isn't going to be any real reconciliation.

    What I can not understand is why the USCCB hasn't stepped up to the plate and presented another less obviously political point of view. I suspect the reason is they are terrified of the organized back lash that would incur. See Cardinal O'Malley, Bishop Morlino, and Notre Dame.

    It's gotten to the point where I can't research on any topic in American Catholicism with out tripping over the same names and same organizations and they are all self appointed.

  10. What is sad is that "coming home" is equated with The Vatican.

    That ain't MY home!

    Jim McCrea