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In the Archives of the Archbishopric of Durango (Mexico) there are a number of documents about concursos de curatos, or priestly concourses, which were used for hiring into vacant parishes and cathedral positions. I read a blog post about another concurso that required two days of analyzing Church documents in Latin, translating and commenting on them in Spanish. It looks like a formalized, competititive hiring process.

When did these competitions run? Who chose the winners?

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I now have part of an answer. The concourses were announced by circular letter. The qualifications of a learned "opponent", or examiner were printed: "Certificado impreso de los meritos del bachiller don Francisco de la Peña, cura del pueblo de San Pedro Tlasquapan, opositor del concurso de curatos vacantes en el arzobispado de México."

Brading's Una Iglesia asediada describes Michoacan diocesan hiring as follows: Some of the high clergy from the cathedral chapter were synodal judges in charge of hiring. The bishop picked from the three candidates they referred to him, then sought the viceroy's approval.

Still, I doubt the above was unique to Mexico, and for all I know the concourses are still going on.

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