Leading article: The spirit level

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Do monks have a sense of humour? The behaviour of the Capuchin friars of Switzerland seems to suggest so. They have placed an advert for recruits in a local magazine with this tantalising job description: "We offer you no pay but spirituality and prayer, contemplation, an egalitarian lifestyle, free of personal material riches".

That would be a striking advert anywhere. But the even more remarkable thing is that the Capuchins chose to place it in the "banking and insurance" section of the magazine. A less monk-like readership it would be difficult to imagine.

But perhaps the monks are serious. The New Testament is replete with attempts to convert the wealthy to a more spiritual life: "The love of money is a root of all evil... It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God... Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple, but the Church has also been attempting to convert them for 2,000 years.

So what we have here is our old friend: traditional values in a modern setting. With savvy like that, who would bet against the Capuchins surviving for another 490 years?