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.

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