VANCOUVER, November 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - An outspoken supporter of the Catholic Church’s Third World development arm says the Catholic Church should help the poor instead of save the souls of “lost sheep.”
Alcuitas has sharply criticized the Vancouver Archdiocese’s Advent campaign to invite inactive Catholics back to church, saying the money would be better spent on the poor.
“Do we need to spend half a million dollars…to win back our lost sheep? Definitely not,” he said.
“The Archdiocese of Vancouver is launching an initiative that is an exercise in futility and the money could have been better spent on the poor. They are just a stone’s throw from the cathedral in the downtown eastside,” Alcuitas said.
The archdiocese is focusing on inviting new or lapsed members back to church over the coming month.
A press release explains that “Catholic parishioners in the Lower Mainland are inviting their neighbours, relatives, and co-workers back to their church family this Advent using creative television commercials developed by the Atlanta-based non-profit organization, Catholics Come Home, Inc.”
“Nearly 1,700 commercials will air in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese throughout the Archdiocese of Vancouver for five-and-a-half weeks beginning Friday, December 14, and running through Sunday, January 20, 2013,” throughout the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Diocese of Victoria.”
Paul Schratz, a spokesman for the Vancouver archdiocese, said the idea to create the multi-ethnic ads stems from the large Asian-Pacific population in the area and is an initiative of evangelization to welcome people home to the Catholic Church.
Schratz said the ad campaign will cost “a couple of hundred thousand dollars,” which will be covered by special collections in Metro Vancouver parishes and other fundraising efforts.
Mr. Alcuitas also took issue with the ad campaign being given in Asian languages.
“And why directed specifically to ‘ethnic’ Catholics? Aren’t we (speaking as a Filipino-Canadian) filling our churches here already?” Alcuitas said.
“What about the mainstream Canadians?” he queried, “Too busy perhaps watching sports as Paul Schratz says, and yet the archdiocese’s mouthpiece, The B.C. Catholic which he used to edit, promotes sports wholeheartedly. That is, if it is not busy of course with fighting for life!”
Mr. Alcuitas blasted The B.C. Catholic for being “obsessed with one issue – pro-life” and accused the archdiocesan newspaper for mounting “a relentless attack on…D & P (the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace), simply because it believes what a U.S.-based, evangelical right-wing website alleges.”
This is in reference to LifeSiteNews.com’s ongoing investigative reports on D&P’s problematic funding relationships with organizations in the Third World that advocate for the decriminalization of abortion.
“It is this kind of tunnel vision by the B.C. Catholic that excludes other gospel teachings like the social encyclicals and focuses only on pro-life issues that is driving some Catholics to leave the church,” Mr. Alcuitas concluded, citing his own children’s departure from the church as evidence that the church is “irrelevant.”
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In announcing the Come Home program, Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller said, “The more we are committed to proclaiming and passing on our faith, the more we ourselves rediscover the joy of believing. Faith grows when it is widely shared and enthusiastically communicated to others.”
Archbishop Miller reflected on the fact that a quarter million baptized Catholics do not practise their faith regularly.
“We cannot simply accept this as a fact about which we can do nothing,” the archbishop said. “Here is the challenge for you: to reach out to them, with kindness and gentleness, attentive to their difficulties and their pain; to welcome them back with open arms to Christ, Who is their life.”
The archdiocese’s announcement of the evangelization effort notes that Catholics Come Home commercials have reached more than 50 million television viewers through previous initiatives in 35 (arch)dioceses including Seattle, Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, and Boston, helping over 350,000 people come home to the Catholic Church and increasing Mass attendance an average of 10 percent, and as much as 18 percent.
The collaboration between Catholics Come Home and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver marks the first time the mass media outreach organization has partnered with a diocese outside the United States.