You have certainly heard about it, the Catholic Church is in decline in most western european countries. Less and less believers go to the office on Sunday and the figures are even worse for the seminarians – the “students” to be priest. As a consequence, less and less donations are made for the restauration of the roofs, the payment of the priests, …
Three dioceses in Normandy (France) have decided to use crowfunding to fill their empty buckets. They just launched this Friday “Adopte un curé” (adopt a priest) as a parody of the dating site Adopt a guy.
Adopt a guy is a french dating site (Adopte un Mec) that “gives power to women” and enables them to pick up their prince charming like in the supermarket. Guys that would like to meet a nice french girl register on the website, set up an account and wait till the women of their dream send him a message. This platform has gained more and more popularity in the past few years, especially since they opened a temporary boutique in Paris where women could go and do their shopping. The marketing stunt proved to be extremely efficient as even the BBC came to the aptly name street of happiness in Paris to do a report of the phenomenon (see here). Soon a british, and later a german website emerged.
“Ladies, find great deals at the supermarket of love”
Inspired by this successful marketing action, the three norman dioceses decided to apply these concepts to the church, in a nice parody.
The application of such concept to the church is nothing new as the website adoptacardinal.org already allowed users to vote and support a randomly assigned cardinal during the last council to elect the new pope. Adopt a Future Priest, launched by the seminary of Paris, works in the exact same way as users can send message and pray in support of one of the seminarians in Paris, from their enrolment until their ordination. Indeed, many seminarians face despondence during those long years. The seminary of Paris believes that such public commitment could enhance the motivation of the seminarians and reduce desertion.
On the other hand, Adopt a Priest is different in the sense that the priest to “adopt” on the website are actors and the goal of the action is to raise funds to help norman churches. Furthermore, by adding hints of humour, the dioceses hope to show a new and younger face of a church and therefore reach a younger public.
When you arrive on the home page of the website, the different choices of priests are shown to you; from the “last arrival: young seminarians” to the picture of a smiling priest qualified as “a divine product to seize as soon as possible”, it almost looks like you could actually adopt a priest! And there is the trick, once you click on the link, a message appears asking you to help “your” priest rather than adopting him by paying him clothes, furniture, …
Given that the campaign was launched yesterday; it is still too early to say if it was successful in terms of donations. It has however already reached its primary goal: to catch the glimpse of the 18-30 year old public as the list of the last donators is displayed on the front page with their picture, name and age. Last, to counter the possible attacks of those chocked by so much audacity, Eric de la Bourdonnaye, the director of communication for the diocese of Rouen; just quotes pope Francis who said ten days ago “when there is a lot of seriousness the Spirit of God is lacking”.
And for the French speakers, here is the comparison between an ad for Adopt a Guy (“adopt a ginger to see life in orange” #dutchie4ever) and its homonymous from Adopt a Priest.
- Charente Libre (16 May 2014), Pour le denier du culte, “adopte un curé”!, Charente Libre. Retrieved from: http://www.charentelibre.fr/2014/05/16/pour-le-denier-du-culte-adopte-un-cure,1895708.php
- Copin, R. (16 May 2014), Adopt’ un futur prêtre: l’Église à l’heure de l’Internet, Metro News. Retrieved from: http://www.metronews.fr/paris/adopt-un-futur-pretre-l-eglise-a-l-heure-de-l-internet/mmft!2mNVNFowguckA/
- Le Figaro (16 May 2014), «Adopteuncuré.com», la campagne de collecte de l’Église en Normandie, Le Figaro. Retrieved from: http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2014/05/16/01016-20140516ARTFIG00403-adopteuncurecom-la-campagne-de-collecte-de-l-eglise-en-normandie.php
- Pouilly, T. (21 June 2013), Pour “Adopte un prêtre” : quand l’église catholique surfe sur les pratiques du web, RSLN. Retrieved from: http://www.rslnmag.fr/post/2013/06/21/Adopte-un-pretre-quand-leglise-catholique-surfe-sur-les-pratiques-du-web.aspx
- Sauvaget, B. (16 May 2014), Soutiens l’Eglise, adopte un curé, Libération. Retrieved from: http://www.liberation.fr/societe/2014/05/16/soutiens-l-eglise-adopte-un-cure_1019032