Catholic Priests Added to Endangered Species List
GLAND, SWITZERLAND — The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced today that the Roman Catholic Priest (Romanos Catholicus sacerdos) has been added to the group’s list of endangered species. The organization cited lack of faith, startups, and sexual intercourse as the three chief causes for the rapid decline in the priest population. Biologists who specialize in priests also suggest habitat loss from widespread church closures and toxic stress from child molestation scandals as other factors in priests’ suffering.
“Just 100 years ago, there would’ve been massive herds of priests all roaming across Western Europe,” said Francis Pastor, an English biologist who has been studying wild populations of priests in Europe for the past 25 years. “Now, you can go two, three weeks without seeing so much as a single monsignor. And when you do see a monsignor, he is almost always past the age of 60. What a tragedy. Am I surprised, though? Not really—it’s incredible that an all-male species thrived for this long. Ever since priests stopped being able to use their relationship with God to hold immense political power a couple hundred years ago, their decline seemed inevitable.”
According to Pastor, the situation is only worsening outside of Western Europe. In the Americas, where priest populations flourished after their introduction by European explorers in the 16th Century, the species’ numbers have declined by more than half since 1960. Ann Vicario, an American biologist who has been working in collaboration with Pastor, described the difficulty in monitoring priest populations: “Priests tend to be very skittish, so getting close enough to observe them often presents a challenge. Making the problem worse is the fact that many priests have dark coats, and they often hide in dark recesses of church buildings, making them hard to spot, and even harder to capture.” Vicario says the decline in priests is mirrored by declining populations of other related species including the Roman Catholic Nun (Catholica hegumnia), which the IUCN currently lists as critically endangered.
While some scientists have suggested introducing Vatican Priests (Catholicus sacerdos vaticanus), a subspecies that tends to inhabit bureaucratic offices, into Western Europe and the Americas, Vicario and Pastor say such a plan is impractical. According to these experts, Vatican priests are not well adapted to the parish church climate, and tend to avoid intermingling with local populations. If a solution isn’t found, some estimate that the Catholic priest could become completely extinct by the end of the century.
At press time, Jesuit priests (Fraternatus of Jesusus) were actually rising in numbers—probably because most of them drive BMWs.