A recruitment campaign by the Catholic Church in Ireland has failed to find even one potential priest.

A series of ads in newspapers and newsletters across the diocese of Elphin has attracted no response.

The recruitment drive across Sligo, Roscommon, Westmeath, and Galway was aimed at getting young men to join the priesthood.

But the Irish Sun newspaper reports that the initiative has proved ‘holy’ unsuccessful despite dole figures in excess of 400,000.

Organiser Fr Jim Murray told the paper: “We have heard nothing back so far.

“We had information on posters, newsletters and local newspapers. It’s worrying and slightly discouraging.”

Recent clerical sex abuse scandals have contributed to a massive downfall in recruitment by the Church.

The report says that it has been four years since there was an ordination in the Elphin diocese.

However, Galway priest Fr Murray claimed: “Many have simply not heard their calling yet.”

He did concede that recent scandals have damaged the church’s recruitment process.

Fr Murray added: “It is certainly worrying, but you have to think the hand of God is at work. Some people are being called but they’re not hearing the call because of the stress of modern life. Certainly, the abuse scandals have had an impact.”

He also revealed that he does not think celibacy is the problem.

“The issue of celibacy has not arisen,” said Fr Murray. “The hard thing is getting good people who are thinking about the priesthood but are not ready to make the leap.”

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