The Calendario Romano, produced by Italian historian Piero Pazzi, features 12 dark and brooding young priests swathed in their religious robes.
The sexy celibates calendar appears to have become an unofficial marketing strategy for World Youth Day, with organisers of the upcoming Catholic festival keen to hand out copies to the media yesterday.
Catholic priest and radio commentator Father Bob Maguire told ninemsn the church was clearly going in for the hard sell to get people on board for World Youth Day.
"There is no good way to market the Catholic Church so what they have done is gone the secular way, where you have got to have something attractive to the eyeballs," he said.
"You can't sell it just as it is because people won't take it, therefore you have to cover it in hundreds and thousands."
While the calendar may appeal to young people concerned about appearances, most Australians wouldn't be "taken in by the gloss”.
"If you really believe this calendar means the Catholic Church is attractive then you've been fooled: I think people are more interested in the substance," he said.
Given the background of the Catholic Church, Father Bob said he had reservations the calendar was heading in the wrong direction.
"I am not particularly enamoured with the sexualisation of the clergy, that is one of our lower natures that we can do without.
"It’s a pitch that I wouldn't personally take, mainly because I don’t look good myself — I never have."
Father Ian McGinnity, chairman of the National Council of Priests, said the calendar was pretty unrealistic, considering the man drought of local young priests.
"We would be hard pressed to find a collective of priests of that age," he said.
"I found it a bit contrasting to the reality of a rather senior clergy at the moment…there are some young priests but we do seem to be in a bit of a drought."
Appealing for young people to join the priesthood could be a good thing but there was a danger the calendar could be misinterpreted, Father McGinnity said, adding he would be horrified if priests were thought of as "eye candy".
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