In response to the recent wave of scandals regarding sexual abuse by priests, the Catholic church has decided to outsource the job.
"It makes perfect sense", claims Monseignor Balfour of the Archdiocese of Rome. "Every time one of the priests gets sued it costs us about $25,000,000. The incidents of abuse may not seem very high at seven per thousand priests, but when you average it out that works out to $175,000 per priest - and that is over and above the normal cost of keeping them for a year. For much less than that we can hire them as contractors, all carrying their own personal liability and malpractice insurance. Then if they misbehave, it is their problem and not ours".
The move toward secularization of the priestly role has attracted some support among congregants. "I am on a limited income", said George Rossy in Boston, Massachusetts I want to support the church, but when I skimp to save $25 for the collection plate then find out that the church is throwing around $25,000,000 to settle some sodomy suit then it makes my contribution seem wasted and irrelevant - my money is going to the dogs, and I might as well just stay home and buy my beer".
The sentiment is not an isolated one. Since the spate of abuse cases of the last decade contributions to the Catholic have declined approximately 80%, and the institution is essentially surviving on a cash flow basis by liquefying fixed assets.
Priests are somewhat less than enthused about the idea, with a grass roots movement gathering steam to organize them into a collective bargaining unit. Sporadic incidents of violence and vandalim have broken out, with at least two priests claiming that they were detained and intimidated by protestant mercenaries. The archdiocese vehemently denies the use of such tactics, stating that pushed to a limit they would far prefer to resort to a civilized excommunication.
The outsourcing of the priestly function is not unheard of in Catholic circles. Faced with a dramatic shortage of parish priests the church has recently taken to using church deacons to fulfill priestly functions, as well as establishing communion with ministers from the Anglican Church of England. In the face of a strike or a bitter confrontation with unionized Catholic priests there would likely be a significant influx of Anglican ministers, since the Anglican church is suffering from the opposite inbalance - an excess of clergy seeking work from a declining number of failing congregations.
"One does what one has to", claims Rev. James McCullough of the struggling Ipswich Holy Light Church of England. "I started off as a man with high spiritual aspirations, live long enough to see my church disintegrate, then end my days as a contractor with a bunch of pedophiles screaming 'scab' at me and slashing my car tires. Shoot me now."