By Ray Ferris
Under a New York Times News Service designation, dated March 31, 1972, the Chicago Tribune ran a news release regarding “an ecclesiastical bonanza” that had been discovered by a Catholic priest recently. “The Roman Catholic priest who bought a full-page advertisement in Playboy magazine last January to stimulate recruitment for the Order of the Most Holy Trinity (Trinitarians) has .come up with an ecclesiastical bonanza.”
It seems that literally hundreds of responses were being received from the ad in an effort to find suitable students for training for the priesthood. Responses had reached a peak of 30 to 40 per week from the ad which was placed in only the East Coast edition of the magazine at a cost of $9,222.00 with no fee from the advertising agency. The good “Father” who obtained the response had tried various other publications with results that were not satisfactory, including $10,000.00 spent last year in Life Magazine, as well as money spent in church papers, new magazines, and newspapers. They were getting an average of only five new students per year, and getting as many as ten was considered an exceptional year. They have already approved twenty-eight for testing from the new group of responses, and, “if all goes well, most of them will be approved as students for the priesthood in June.”
In the news story there were brief references to the reactions of various people regarding this approach. It is manifest that the “Father” who placed the ad must have approved of the action. The president of the Baltimore advertising agency was, of course, pleased with the outcome, and offered an analysis for its success. The establishment had turned off most of the young people, and any appearance of part of that establishment in unusual and- unexpected areas caused the young people to take note! One New Jersey resident said it was “one of the most disgraceful acts of any member of the church in this century.” A New Yorker said, “At a time when religion has lost its meaning for so many young people and has lost touch with them and has become irrelevant, we have to reach out to them.” The church official who placed the ad said, “In conscience, I do not feel that Christ’s message is out of place anywhere.”
The resident of New Jersey has hit “the nail on the head.” It is one thing to reach out with the saving gospel of Christ and declare His message anywhere; to demonstrate the “relevance” of the message of Jesus now to all people, whether in or out of “the establishment.” It is an entirely different thing to reach into the grossest elements of our society to find people to be representatives of the Lord in some special effort to bring people out of wickedness. It would make just as much sense to advertise in the midst of the crime syndicate for one to be schooled as a policeman, and then gloat of the success of the advertisement when several “hoods” answer the ad! Who would dare to say this was making law and order relevant to anybody and delivering its message to the syndicate?
There was no mention made of a need to convert to Christ those who responded, and then train them for the “priesthood.” A member of the Crime syndicate may reform and become a very effective policeman, but he can hardly be a logical representative of law and order, and one who would be used by reasonable men to enforce law and order, while a member of the crime syndicate. Likewise, a reader of Playboy Magazine may be converted and become a preacher of righteousness, but reasonable men who uphold truth can hardly recruit from those who subscribe to the immoral “Playboy” codes, and set these forth as examples of moral living and advocates of truth and godliness, while they are yet members of the “Playboy Community!” But that is exactly what is proposed by this plan.
Several observations seem to be in order here. First, the Catholic Church must be having a difficult time in recruiting priests. There is seemingly a tremendous shortage of men who are really willing to make a sacrifice in behalf of what they think of as the service of God and man in the “spiritual community,” regardless of what religious group is involved, and the Catholics are no exception. Second, we have illustrated the extent to which so-called religious people will go to foster the organization of which they are a part. Even though likelihood of getting a spiritually-minded person from the abysmal depth of moral pollution to be found among Playboy readers is almost non-existent, it does not deter some from perpetuating the organization at the expense of souls, who will be led and influenced by such immoral leaders. Third, the tremendous influence of immorality in the “religious world” is seen because “Father Lupo” says the basic reaction to the ad and its results has been favorable! Fourth, there is indication that some are saying of Hugh Heffner and his philosophy – “If we can’t lick him, we will join him!” Finally, the widespread popularity of this obscene magazine is seen. After all they only used the East Coast edition for the ad. Think of the result they might have gotten if they had advertised in all editions! The article ends by saying, “the Trinitarians were not considering placing another ad in Playboy but were currently working on ‘another new idea in recruiting.’ He declined to elaborate.” Hmmm-mm!
With all that result from just one ad in one segment of the magazine and it seems to have made everyone so happy, it is difficult to determine why they did not pursue the course with more frequent ads in all the editions. Since the implication is that this ad was “Christ’s message” to the Playboy Magazine readers, then it may be that they are considering placing ads for “students for the priesthood” in all of the “X-Rated” movies, the Burlesque Shows, Saloons, Hippie Communes, etc. Thus “Christ’s message” could be taken to these people, and this appearance of “part of the establishment” in these surroundings would be sure to attract the attention of some of these young people who will respond to become priests, nuns, etc! A whole new field of opportunity is opened.
Not Really Surprising
Do not get the impression that I am really surprised by the article. Anyone who has made even a slight study of church history is aware of the unbelievable immorality that has been condoned, practiced, and even advocated by the Catholic religion in its sordid history. This is but another milestone in the long road of their immorality.
Nor is this an effort to imply that all Catholics are immoral, or would approve of the practice referred to in the article, and other immoral deeds. But any Catholic is stuck with the stubborn fact of history. The history of the Catholic Church is filled with record after record of the immoral actions of its official leaders. This is but one of many evidences that could be cited to show that it is not following the truth that is revealed in God’s word. To be imperfect is but to be human, but to attempt to justify such unethical actions as an official claiming to represent God on earth is blasphemy!
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 35, pp. 10-11
July 13, 1972