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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 23 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 21
French Catholics short of cash; ask parishioners to Adopt-a-Priest
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French Catholics short of cash; ask parishioners to Adopt-a-Priest

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Catholic Church in France is offering its parishioners the chance to 'Adopt-a-Priest' in an attempt to raise funds, the news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) reports.

According to the AFP website 20 Minutes, the Adopt-a-Priest campaign was initiated by six Catholic dioceses in Normandy and is modeled on the popular dating website Adopt-a-Guy.

Designed by an advertising agency, the campaign targets users between 18 and 40 years of age, 'to encourage them to donate to the church,' Father Xavier Signagout, Vicar General of the diocese of Bayeux, told 20 Minutes.

Visitors to the Church website first see the smiling face of a young man dressed as a priest. His photo is captioned 'divine product, enter now.' By clicking the photo, visitors access additional pages promising 'New Promotion: young seminarians,' or 'Sale 50% off / retired pastor, still very active,' with the photo of an older man.

Visitors are then given the option 'To support the mission of your priest, instead of adopting give us a donation.' Donations of 10, 80, or 100 Euros are suggested, for a meal, travel expenses, or one day's salary.

'A one day mission to preach the gospel, spread the love of God, unite lovers, accompany the spiritual life, bury loved ones ... Your pastor has a varied daily schedule. For these missions, he receives remuneration paid by your donations,' the website explains.

The light-hearted tone of the site belies a very serious funding problem for the French church.

According to the leftist French newspaper Liberation, donations from the faithful are one of the French Catholic Church's main sources of income. The diocese of Rouen, for example, reported 15,000 regular donors in 2013, but loses 500-700 each year, and needs remaining donors to be increasingly generous.

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