Boston Catholics Hope 'Light' Makes Flock Confess

On radio stations in Boston, on CatholicTV and on the Web, the Archdiocese of Boston is trying to bring Catholics back to confession. The Light Is On for You is the name of the campaign, and one of its spokespeople is Father Robert Reed, director of CatholicTV. Guest host Audie Cornish speaks with Reed about the new campaign.

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AUDIE CORNISH, host:

On radio stations in Boston, on Catholic TV and on the Web, the archdiocese of Boston is trying to bring Catholics back to confession.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Unidentified Man: If you're looking to deepen your faith during this season of Lent, the priests of the Boston archdiocese welcome you to join them in celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation. Visit any church...

CORNISH: The Light is On for You is the name of the campaign, and one of its spokespeople is Father Robert Reid, director of Catholic TV. He joins us now. Good morning, Father Reid.

Father ROBERT REID (Director, Catholic TV): Good morning, Audie. Nice to be with you.

CORNISH: Now, something like 75 percent of American Catholics don't go to confession at all. What are some of the reasons that the church is seeing that?

Mr. REID: Well, I think that some of the reasons would be a lack of understanding of the sacrament, perhaps some anger or animosity toward the church, a bad experience in the past, or maybe just being out of practice. And I think that's why this campaign has been important thing to do in a diocese.

CORNISH: The Web site, TheLightIsOnForYou.org, has a video on how to go to confession.

(Soundbite of video)

Unidentified Woman: Step One: Examine your actions since your last confession. Reflect on those that have hurt other people or distanced you from God.

CORNISH: I mean, is this something that Catholics really need to be educated about? I mean, the actual step-by-step process?

Mr. REID: I think it is, because that perhaps is one of the reasons why people don't approach the sacrament as much anymore because they're afraid of perhaps they are going to do it wrong. And so it really is very simple. In fact, a lot of the burden is on the priests and we do try to help people through it.

CORNISH: You talked about trust in the church and I'm wondering how you think that the sexual abuse crisis that affected the Catholic Church has affected people's willingness to go and to be part of the community and to go to confession.

Mr. REID: I'm absolutely certain it's a factor. And so I think that's why, you know, the campaign is important, not just this Lent but in the coming years to let people know that there's a lot of really great guys, my brother priests, who are out there and they themselves know that, you know, they're sinners. I know I'm a sinner. I avail myself of the sacrament and I want to invite people to come and to have this face-to-face encounter not as much with me, with my brother priests, but with Jesus Christ himself and be reconciled.

We all need that and we want to invite people and let people know that we are there for them.

CORNISH: So, is it a part of rebuilding trust with the community?

Mr. REID: Absolutely. And I know that's very much needed. Its been such a difficult period and continues to be for Catholics who are estranged from the church, for us as priests, and it's a burden that we all carry. And it's going not take many, many years, perhaps decades, to recover from this and to continue to invite people back to the Lord and to the community, which is the church.

CORNISH: Father Robert Reid is the director of Catholic TV. Thanks very much for speaking with us.

Mr. REID: I appreciate the chance to do that. Have a wonderful Sunday.

CORNISH: This is NPR News.

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