Spain launches vocation drive among the unemployed


The Roman Catholic Church is hoping that they can tempt young men to join the priesthood to reverse a trend that has left many parishes across Spain without a priest.

A new campaign launched this week by Spain’s Episcopal Conference promises a secure job with a modest salary that offers eternal rewards.

“I do not promise you a great salary. I promise you a permanent job,” states one of nine priests who appear in the two-and-a-half minute clip broadcast on YouTube ahead of Dia del Seminario – Day of the Priest – on March 19.

Another says: “I do not promise you will live a luxurious life. I promise your wealth will be eternal.”

The average salary of a parish priest in Spain is between 700-800 euros (£580 – £665) a month.

In a clear reference to the frustrations of Spain’s five million jobless a voice asks at the start of the video: “How many promises have been made to you that have not been fulfilled?”

Recent statistics show half of young Spaniards between 18 and 25 are out of work and a national rate of 23 per cent unemployment is expected to rise before the year end.

Once the bastion of Gen Francisco Franco’s Spain, the power and influence of the Catholic Church has waned since the death of the dictator in 1975. On its transition to democracy Spain was officially declared a secular state and church attendance has since been on the decline.

Spain’s Catholic Church claims that 73 per cent of the 46 million population consider themselves Roman Catholics, although fewer than 15 per cent of those admit to attending Mass regularly.

Pope Benedict XVI has made it his priority to reawaken Christianity in countries which have drifted from their traditional Roman Catholic roots.

The Vatican views Spain as a key battleground in the creeping secularism of modern society and the 84 year-old Pontiff has visited the country three times since taking office in 2005.

The success of last summer’s World Youth Day, which was held in Madrid and drew a crowd of two million to the final open-air mass celebrated by the Pope, is credited with boosting recruits to the priesthood.

Read more.


  1. Vox borealis says:

    There’s always work at the post office, er, Catholic Church. This strikes me as maybe not the best approach for boosting the number of priests.

  2. This reminds me of an ad for missionaries to the growing western expansion of the U.S. that was placed in a 19th century Paris newspaper:

    “We offer you no salary, no recompense, no leadership, no pension, but much hard work, a poor dwelling, small consolation, many disappointments, a violent and lonely death and an unknown grave.”

    Most of these missionaries were French émigrés who left genteel lives for this new venture. So rapid was the growth of the church under such missionaries that people in the eastern part of the U.S. began to spread the rumor that Rome was plotting to take over the Mississippi Valley.
    One such missionary was a Dominican priest, Edward Fenwick, who was born in America and educated in Belgium. During the French Revolution he was imprisoned. What saved him from death was his American citizenship. He returned as a missionary and became first bishop of Cincinnati. He became known as the “The Apostle of Ohio.” He would ride on horseback locating families who had not seen a priest for years. He died alone of cholera in 1832 and was buried before any of his priests could reach him.

    Source: “The Story of Catholics in America” by Don Brophy, Paulist Press, 1978

  3. This sounds distasteful to me. And isn’t this sort of how the Church got in trouble with the pedophilia scandle? When you get desperate for peiests you accept those that are joining for the wrong reasons.

  4. Not a good idea. There’s a big difference between the 19th century ad that someone has posted and this campaign. I’m sure it is well intentioned, but not realistic or even entirely honest. Priesthood is (or definitely should be) much, much more than a job and a salary.

  5. I’m not sure it’s such a bad idea. I’m assuming, of course, that discernment and formation are going to take place anyways and that will winnow the candidates down those with a true vocation (he hopes). Maybe a lot of these unemployed guys had once thought about a religious vocation but no one approached them about it or they became distracted, like lots of people, by thoughts of worldly success when the economy was doing well. If the present situation prompts them to take a second look at the religious life, and if there are people they’re to encourage that second look, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

    I think one of the reasons there’s been a decline in vocations in much of the developed world is that people got used to thinking the priesthood (or the deaconate, etc.) was for other people and no one ever said to them it could be for you, or told them it’s okay to think that it could be for you.

  6. naturgesetz says:

    The pedophiles and ephebophiles were generally admitted to seminaries during a time when vocations were abundant, not when we were desperate for priests. At least that’s how it was in Boston.

  7. I guess that’s true. Ok, I stand corrected. Still this is distateful.

  8. If one looks at when seminaries started to shrink, you will see the rise of abuse at about the same time. yes, it happened before, but in those instances, the percentages were very small because there were so many.

    If you talk to many priest who survived those seminaries of the 60-80′s, they have some fairly horrible tales to tell of how they survived in the increasingly liberal and often sin filled seminaries. That is why there was a mission to have the seminaries cleaned out and restored to actual Catholic teaching. the priest coming out today and ones that are filled with strong belief fostered by Pope JPII and now Pope Benedict. When they move up and replace some of the Bishops of that era, the Church will again move forward from the problems caused.

  9. We see many vocations amoung the poor worldwide. Remember that Christ did not call the rich or the Jewish leaders to come and follow. These people are probably not going to be seduced yet by wealth or power. It is easier for a poor man to get to heaven than a rich man. And remember, the rich young man who was called walked away sad.

    If I were going to look for those who might be hearing a call, I think the poor would be a good place to start. That does not mean you are recruiting them without a vocation call, but the chuch should put out its nets with these in mind. It is easier for them to give up everything than the rich to heed the call and there are certainly more of them.

    I see nothing wrong with this at all. I would think the left would support this call big time.

  10. Deacon Norb says:

    Pancho: Quit thinking 1980′s-1990′s! We really are not in a vocations crisis in 2012.

    I am on a first-name basis with three priest/administrators at three different major seminaries — two here in the Midwest and one in the Far West. All three of these institutions are either at capacity now or certainly expect to be in Fall 2012. The sine-wave of priestly vocations is now in the “climbing” mode.

    When I asked one of these three what did he attribute the cause to all this enrollment increase, he mentioned three things I had not ever considered:

    –A large number of theses new seminarians are “late-life” vocations; men who had secular degrees (even Law degrees) but who found that the “dog-eat-dog” world that American Business has become was an environment that they did not want to continue living in.

    –A surprising number of these new seminarians come from broken homes — single-parent families or even multiple parent families – and are looking for a sense of personal stability that they see that the church — particularly one focused on stable ancient traditions — can offer.

    –Also surprising, a few of the seminaries across the country are re-opening their “high-school” component that they all closed down in the early 1970′s or so.

    Now whether the “Law of Unintended Consequences” is at work here and that new seminarians in each of these three new tracks bring their own set of personal challenges to the vocations table remains to be seen.

  11. Deacon Norb,
    I think that’s great news and I’m glad to read it but I don’t think that trend has reached everywhere quiet yet. It doesn’t look like it’s reached much of Spain yet, which is why the Church in Spain is trying the approach described in the story. It hasn’t really reached my diocese quiet yet either, although I think things are getting better here and it will be like you describe sooner than later, thank goodness.

    Of the three reasons you describe, I think the first two sort of relate to the story and I like that some places are reopening their high school seminaries. I think there’s a place for those in the church and it was a mistake to give up on them too quickly.

  12. Deacon Norb says:


    “I think there’s a place for those in the church and it was a mistake to give up on them too quickly.”

    I will not disagree with your first statement but I will not agree with your second.

    When he trusts you enough to be brutally honest, a prominent businessman I know (married/father of three) will tell the story about how he did attend a high school seminary — for exactly three days. The second night he was there, a senior in that seminary climbed into bed with him and started fondling his crotch. My friend fiercely pushed him out and the very next morning went to the rector and said he wanted to go back home. He never told the rector nor his parents why. His family was bitterly disappointed at the turn of events.

    This event — told to me just in the past few years — happened during the last two years or so that this high school seminary existed — way back in the late 1960′s/early 1970′s.

    Frankly, that’s not the first time I have heard a story like that and it coincides with the major wave of pedophilia events that were a part of those scandals of some thirty years later. The students in the high-school seminaries were often the first victims and when they became old enough – and had accepted presbyteral ordination — became perpetrators themselves.

    While the official reasons for closing those high school seminaries at that time was probably because of slipping enrollments — there was far more to it than that. The Risen Lord Jesus had good reason to let those corrupt facilities die.

  13. Deacon Norb,
    if what you say is true, and I have no reason to disbelieve you, then sadly I think you are right. If things had to start over from scratch then so be it.

  14. John McGrath says:

    This sounds like a formula for recruiting priests who will become corrupt, sexually active, cynical. When the Catholic priesthood was the only route to education in certain parts of Africa the resulting clergy were of very low morality.

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