Wednesday, March 02, 2011
The population of Catholic priests has been declining precipitously for decades.
At the current rate of priests dying, leaving the priesthood or going to jail for crimes of sexual abuse, against the dwindling number of men entering the priesthood, it is estimated that by 2050 half the churches in the western world will not have their own parish priests.
To combat this looming prospect, Pope Benedict announced today that the Catholic church would begin accepting atheists for ordination.
"Of all the variables we considered changing," his Eminence, Valencio Cardinal Bellini, spokesman for the Holy See said at a press conference, "we felt that a belief in God was the least important."
The church had considered offering signing bonuses and prizes, such as tickets to Justin Bieber's European tour, but ultimately that gambit was deemed not to be appropriate.
"We're looking for men, period," Cardinal Bellini said. "If they're even semi-presentable, reasonably punctual and marginally mentally stable, we're willing to have a look at them."
One reporter asked why the church wouldn't consider lifting its current policy of celibacy in order to draw more young men into the clergy.
"The church is not willing to compromise its most sacred tenets in order to merely 'draw' more men to the priesthood," Bellini said.
"But isn't it true," the reporter followed up, "that the celibacy rule was instituted because the church wanted to stop wealthy priests from leaving their estates to their blood families when they died -- not for any spiritual reason?"
"Yes, but since that time, we've grown very attached to the rule. It's made life easier for the congenitally un-layable."
In International League of Atheists was contacted for its comments on this change to the Catholic church's priesthood recruitment program, but no one returned the call.
It was reported, however, that a loud and sustained gale of laughter was heard emanating from the ILA headquarters in Berlin.
Posted by Whetam Gnauckweirst at 5:42 PM