Need a job? Become a priest...

The latest from the Catholic bastion of Europe:

MADRIDAmid soaring unemployment in Spain the country's Roman Catholic Church has launched a campaign offering steady jobs as priests.In an advertisement video posted on social networks such as YouTube, a series of priests announce the benefits of priesthood with the first saying he "can't promise a great salary but I can promise a fixed job."The number of people entering the priesthood has dwindled drastically in recent years leaving many parishes without priests.The average monthly wage for priests is around 800 euros ($1,045).Spain has a eurozone high unemployment rate of nearly 23 percent. The figure is expected to rise even further this year.The Bishops Conference said on it website Thursday the video was made to coincide with Seminary Day on March 19.

Okay, I'll say good for them. First, it's not like the church didn't benefit from such pragmatic strategies for centuries -- all those "leftover" sons who wouldn't inherit anything opting for the priesthood. And this approach expresses a kind of faith in the church, and in the practice of the faith, to allow the Spirit to develop men into good priests. Yes, a vocation must be present in the first instance -- more than just a desire for a paycheck. But I have known a number of fine priests who went into the priesthood with the rushing of a great wind, or even strayed in with only the vaguest notion of what they were doing, and over time became the pastor they never thought they would be. Seems to me that happens in marriage too, like a lot of vocations. (I seem to recall that arranged marriages are as successful as "love matches." Not that I'm arguing for the former.)I know that Pope Benedict, like many church leaders, argues against viewing the priesthood in terms of a "profession" and certainly not a "career." But I also think that can lead to a kind of "hyper-spiritualization" and elevation of the priesthood into an unattainable ideal that no one can hope to match -- and thus won't try.Then again, I've tended to like Bernanos' Cur de Torcy more than the country priest. Heresy complete.

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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