Friday, August 28, 2009

Will the Spectacular Last?


Catholics Come Home (CCH) is a Roswell, GA based outfit (just around the corner from my own chapel) that uses its web site and television ads to invite Catholics who have stopped attending Mass to return. It uses the glamour of digital means to win attention and engage audiences.

Though Catholics make up an estimated 23% of the U.S. population, only 33% of them attend Mass on a weekly basis. In the Atlanta Archdiocese the figures are even more grim: the number of Catholics is about 750,000 (officially; unofficially the number is 950,000), but not quite 150,000 attend weekly Mass. The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few.

Curiously, Catholics are being invited to return to the modernized mass, catechism, etc. that drove everyone away to begin with. The Emperor's birthday suit hasn't improved with age.

I expect the CCH media campaign that is kicking off in Sacramento and is hoped to bring 100,000 Catholics back to the pews will be more spectacular than profound. The history of American Catholicism has been to prefer the exciting to the routine, exterior works to interior acts, speeches to prayers.

I say that knowing that my own conversion was facilitated by reading numerous entries in the online Catholic Encyclopedia, so like St. Maximilian Kolbe I recognize the potential here for the good use of media. But I do wonder how long the return of the prodigals will last. It would be interesting to see a follow-up study in another year or two to see how many people returned to the modernized Church and stayed.


Sean said...

For a bit of data in support of my point, see

The author draws the wrong conclusion about cause and effect, but the objective numbers are there to demonstrate the dropoff.

churchmouse said...

"The Emperor's birthday suit hasn't improved with age."
No, and every now and then they try to spruce it up by bringing out some new (equally invisible) tie. Doesn't work.