If you’ve got 15 minutes to kill and are in need of a good laugh, you should check out www.calledtoday.com, a Japanese manga-type comic launched this month by the Catholic Church in England and Wales in an effort to make a career as a priest or nun seem more appealing to young people.

According to this piece in The Telegraph,

Fr Paul Embery, the Church’s Director of Vocations, admitted that persuading teenagers to commit to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience was not an easy sell, but said that the Church was desperate to reach younger candidates for ordination.

“We realise that this kind of commitment is counter-cultural. It requires great sacrifice, and a lot of people see it as monotonous and boring, but actually it is an extremely fulfilling job,” he said.

“Manga cartoon characters are popular with young people from the age of 10 up to mid-20s and we thought that it would be a way to help them use their imagination when thinking about the priesthood.”

So what sort of unorthodox things will today’s nuns and priests do? What sort of exciting ways can young people expect to spend their time that might be more appealing than say, I dunno, having sex?

According to the website, men and women of the cloth today play pool,

surf the internet,

and, uh, cook (I guess they started to run out of ideas).

Man, I don’t even have the heart to make fun of this.

I’m not religious, and I never have been – but I have no objections to anyone else making the choice to follow a spiritual path. I don’t agree with Richard Dawkins (who I think is a bit of a prick), that ‘religion is the root of all evil.’ Atheists can be just as evil as religious people – they just don’t carry the same banners.

What other people believe doesn’t really bother me – it’s what they do that upsets me, like murdering doctors who carry out abortions, stoning women who dare to walk in the street unaccompanied by their husbands, or molesting little boys because they’ve sworn off sex with women.

Certainly Catholicism is not one religion I’m inclined to be sympathetic towards – I’m not a fan of the whole “sin” thing, and that whole idea that this life is nothing but a test to see if you’re fit to enjoy heaven in the next one. I think Sly and the Family Stone said it best when Sly crooned, “You don’t have to die before you live.”

So my gut reaction might be disgust at a campaign aimed at seducing young people into a lifetime of celibacy, that would persuade them to never enjoy the greatest delights that our species can experience: sex and having babies.

But the fact that the church is using a Japanese cartoon style to make itself more appealing to young people really just shows how desperate they are for recruits, and how much the church is in decline. If anything, I kind of feel sorry for them.

…but only kind of.