Pope Benedict XVI Approves Measure to Increase Vocations to the Priesthood
VATICAN CITY—Responding to the need for priestly vocations, Pope Benedict XVI ordered Vatican officials to sponsor the first annual Running of the Altar Boys in hopes of attracting new members to its all-male clergy.
“There was mounting pressure from liberal-minded Catholics to allow married men and even women into the priesthood,” decried a Vatican spokesman, Fr. Antonio Carrozini. “In order to thwart those proposals, we knew we had to quickly replenish the dwindling numbers of men among our clergy.”
Fr. Carrozini reported that the pontiff thought of the idea after watching the popular Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain, where bulls chase participants down a narrow village street. “It began as a means of provoking the bulls to the market where they would be slaughtered,” he said. “The Blessed Father, in all his divine wisdom, decided to adopt it as a means of attracting vocations to the priestly life.”
In the proposed Papal version, seminarians from around the world would have the opportunity to chase hoards of altar boys down the newly named Via Pueris (Way of the Boy), a narrow, kilometer-long street bordering Vatican City. Any seminarian enrolled during the 2005-2006 church year would be eligible to participate in the rough-and-tumble event to be held in December. The theme for this year’s event will be Effercio Rectorum Nostra (Fill up our rectories).
As expected, enrollment in seminaries has dramatically increased tenfold since the event was announced.
“The results have been astounding,” said Carrozini. “But procurement of altar-boys willing to participate proved to be more challenging.”
As usual, Vatican officials turned to members of Opus Dei, a lay organization known for their radically conservative agenda and staunch support of the Vatican.
“We were thrilled when the Vatican contacted us to supply altar-boys!” responded Opus Dei president, David Knox. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support the Holy Father and for our sons to interact with his fine clerics. I enrolled my boys, Michael and Brendan, right away.”
Knox thought for a moment and added, “I only wish I’d had this opportunity when I was their age.”
Vatican guidelines state that prospective altar boys between the ages of eight and twelve-and-a-half are to attend a two week training camp staffed by a Roman Catholic branch of Promise Keepers. During the two week stay, the boys are groomed for the chase by participating in various running, tumbling and wrestling events.
“I was really concerned that the Roman Catholic priesthood might become a thing of the past,” said Fr. William McNeary, vocation director for the Washington Theological Union. “Thanks to this event and the insight of our Blessed Father, the Church as we’ve come to know it will remain steadfast and unchanged. Why, it makes me want to be a seminarian again!”