Spain’s Churches Aggressively Recruiting Amidst Soaring National Unemployment


Spain’s unemployment rate may have climbed to 24.4 percent for the first quarter of the year last week, but at least one organisation is taking this opportunity to offer a lifetime job for any interested party.

In the last year, the Roman Catholic Church in Spain has attempted to go on a nationwide recruitment drive for new priests, after enrolment in seminaries had fallen by over 25 percent in the last decade.

Last month for instance, a group of bishops commissioned an ad agency to create a viral video that promoted the priesthood – becoming the most-watched video in Spain for two days, with hundreds of thousands of downloads.

“It went viral, and we've had journalists calling us from five continents. Venezuela has even asked for the copyright,” said Spanish Bishop Josep Angel Saiz Meneses to NPR.

In the video, numerous young priests are seen speaking into the camera one by one, while footage of them marrying people and praying over a hospital bed or a man in prison is intercut among the interviews.

"I don't promise you a big salary, I promise you a permanent job,” says one young priest in the video.

"I do not promise you a perfect job. I promise you will be part of an amazing project,” added another.

The video, the Catholic Church claimed, was targeted at Spaniards who may be bewildered by bailouts and unemployment, and were looking for a more simplistic lifestyle free from the troubles of the secular world.

Meneses however acknowledged that the video might not be as effective for younger audiences, despite the fact that the jobless rate in Spain was more than 50 percent for those under 25.

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"I don't think any youngster is really going to enter the seminary just for job security. That idea came from the marketing people," said Meneses. “They put it in as a bit of a provocation — to grab your attention, to shock you and get you to watch the video."

Nevertheless the Catholic Church in Spain are said to be thrilled with the results. After a decade of declining enrolments, the number of people joining seminaries actually rose by 4 percent last year.

Even economists such as Gayle Allard, a professor at Madrid’s IE Business School, has noticed the trend whereby more people are likely to abandon the secular world for a spiritual calling during times of a recession.

"They pass from a materialist to a post-materialist phase, where they start thinking more about quality of life and meaning of life.”

"The good thing about crisis is that maybe it awakens this other side of us, and helps us to step off the treadmill a bit, and think about why we're here — besides just paying a mortgage," said Allard.

Watch Spain’s Catholic Church Recruitment Video (with subtitles):