(Photo: REUTERS/Patrick Andrade)
What is being described as the biggest national campaign in the church’s 2000-year-old history is being launched this month by the group called Catholics Come Home.
The organization was created with the purpose of bringing former Catholics back to the church, and is hoping to reach hundreds of millions of people when the campaign runs on TV stations nationwide from Dec. 16 through to Jan. 8, The Denver Post reported.
The Catholic Church has been rocked by sex-scandals and other problems both in the U.S. and around the world in recent years, and the Vatican has been widely criticized for its lack of response to address these issues in an effective manner.
Statistics from a poll conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University pointed out that of the people who still identify themselves as Catholics, only one-third, or 21.3 million people, attend church service regularly.
Although the U.S. population of Catholics has remained close to 25 percent in recent years, this is mostly due to Catholic immigrants coming into the country. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life published a survey in 2008, however, that clearly showed that adults were walking away from Catholicism – one in three were raised in the denomination, but three in four eventually left the church.
Tom Peterson, the founder and president of the Catholics Come Home organization, shared with The Christian Post that never in the Catholic church’s 2000-year-old history has there been such an ambitious nationwide campaign. He said in the interview that “now is the time to spread the Good News and answer Jesus’ call,” and that modern media offers a great opportunity to do that.
A preview video for the ad campaign, carefully marketed to run during the Christmas holidays, promises to “bring millions of souls” back to church. It will run more than 400 times during its 3-week-span; it will reach around 250 million viewers, and it will air during popular day time shows, prime-time series and sports events, such as the high-rating college football games.
Since 2008, the organization has run ads in 30 different dioceses around the country, which the founder said have raised church attendance by as much as 18 percent, and encouraged 300,000 people nationwide to join the church.
Peterson revealed that 35,000 families from coast to coast have encouraged relatives and loved ones to rejoin the Catholic church and collect more than $3.5 million for the ads. A lot of work was also needed to secure the deal with the major networks and ensure that the recourses are used in the most efficient manner.
He also remarked that now more than ever was the right time to launch the campaign, because people are hurting economically, and those that are “down on their luck are also down on their knees” and are ready to accept Jesus into their hearts and minds.
The ad preview encourages people to be a part of the “largest family reunion in history,” and shows clips of various Catholic communities around the world celebrating life and service.
The website of the organization features columns that speak not only to former Catholics, but members of other religious denominations, and people with no religion at all – inviting them all to join its fold. A number of other ads and video testimonies of people talking about what inspired them to rejoin Catholicism are also available for viewing.