BRAINTREE (CBS) – Cardinal Sean O’Malley has launched a campaign aimed at bringing lapsed Catholics back to church.
The Boston Archdiocese kicked off “Catholics Come Home” on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent and the start of the holy season that ends with Easter Sunday.
Church officials say 2,500 ads will air between Ash Wednesday and Easter. The ad placements are designed in such a way that an average television viewer will see these ads 20 times by the program’s end on Easter. The $600,000 ad campaign was paid for by a special collection in parishes in January.
The archdiocese says just 17-percent of Catholics are Sunday regulars. Others have drifted away completely.
WBZ TV’s Peg Rusconi reports
“The principal reason church exists is to evangelize, feel using modern means would be the best way to do it,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley. “We want people to come back and be part and need to do a better job of explain what church’s teachings are.”
Melanie Varady likes the idea of a welcome campaign, suggesting it’s a good start. She says, “I think there’s a lot of healing over the years that’s needed to take place.”
Arthur Birkland believes the Church’s stance on controversial issues have driven some away. Birkland said, “I think the hot issues like birth control and abortion have alienated some Catholics from the church.”
The campaign is fashioned as a gentle invitation, though Cardinal O’Malley says returning Catholics should not assume the church has softened its positions on some of those sticky social issues.
Thirty other dioceses have used the campaign and report increases in attendance.
WBZ TV’s Peg Rusconi contributed to this report.