Catholics everywhere are deeply distressed by the priestly sexual abuse scandals that have convulsed the Church over the past decade, but it seems that Boston-area Catholics have been among the most traumatized by them. In a certain sense, Boston was the epicenter of the scandal-quake that rocked the Church in the U.S., its aftershocks reverberating in Ireland, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere.
This was made clear to me several years ago when I arrived at a suburban Boston parish where I was to give a lecture that evening. To my astonishment, about two dozen men and women were demonstrating with chants and protest signs on the front steps of the church. I had never seen anything like it in all the years I’ve been doing this work. Drawing closer, I read the signs and saw that they were protesting Cardinal Law and the Archdiocese for their handling of the whole mess, especially of notorious offenders such as John Geoghan, Paul Shanley, Robert Gale, etc. Most likely, it was a contingent of “Voice of the Faithful” folks waving the signs. I didn’t ask. But it definitely made an impression on me.
Sadly, many thousands of demoralized New England Catholics have left the Church in the wake of the scandals. Last November, and again this past March, during two week-long speaking tours of parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston, I had the occasion to talk with many Catholics who confirmed that. It seemed that practically everyone had a friend or family member who abandoned Catholicism and who identified the scandals as a major reason, if not the reason for their departure.
Well, there is a new and encouraging chapter being written in the history of the Church in the Northeast in part due to a highly effective media outreach being undertaken in the Archdiocese of Boston aimed at encouraging fallen-away, alienated, angry, and/or in some other way disaffected Catholics to come home. Appropriately enough, the media outreach is called Catholics Come Home, and their extremely well-produced commercials and other resources have already helped literally tens of thousands of former Catholics and a significant number of non-Catholics come home to the Catholic Church. I’ve been personally affiliated with Catholics Come Home, both as a supporter and as a consultant, for the past 3 1/2 years. (My work for them took place 3 years ago, when I authored all the original content for their website.)
I’m keenly interested in seeing how things go with their ongoing media outreach in major metropolitan areas around the U.S. That’s what this video clip caught my eye. It’s a news report by WGBH, a Boston-based radio & television conglomerate that blankets New England. I found their coverage of the recent Catholics Come Home campaign in the Archdiocese of Boston to be quite interesting, especially as it came at this issue from a decidedly secular vantage point. Check it out.