Founded in 1998 by Tom Peterson, a former advertising executive with 30 years' experience in that field, Catholics Come Home enjoys the support of many noted Catholic authors, bishops and Vatican officials. It has now launched a national multimedia campaign, with a special emphasis on TV ads, gently nudging lapsed Catholics back into the fold. The group cites a quote from the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen: "Love is a mutual self-giving which ends in self-recovery. You recover God, and He recovers you."
The message comes with the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love. It's not an appeal to "narrow dogmatism," but it is unequivocally faithful to dogma. The group sees the church as a port in a storm, not a prison guarded by Rottweilers. "God loves you so much that He will not stop searching for you, reaching out to you, and seeking you, so He can bring you safely home to a big, warm, and loving Catholic family. But God is gentle ... the choice is yours."
The media seemingly have no concept of what G.K. Chesterton called "the adventure of orthodoxy" against the prevailing winds of earthly opinion. "It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own," Chesterton wrote. "It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob." Moral relativism demands we roll with its flow, and be swept up in its secular dogmatism.
The hard part about religious belief in modern America is giving up the worship of self, the urge to put our selfish concerns first. "What would American Catholics wish to hear from the Pope when he arrives?" "What do you want him to say?" These are the dominant media questions posed to Catholic leaders before papal visits.
Even orthodox Catholics would be tempted to wax poetic. But when he was asked, Tom Peterson's simple response was a monumental rebuttal to the very question. "I want the Holy Father to say whatever the Holy Father wishes to say." It is the faith behind that response that deserves attention from the American media if they are truly interested in answers, not agendas.