Priests to carry ID cards that reveal if they are sex offenders

Priests to carry ID cards

Priests in France will soon be required to carry ID cards featuring QR codes that can be scanned to determine if they have been involved in sexual abuse cases.

The introduction of these wallet-sized ID cards aims to enhance transparency within the Catholic Church and clamp down on sexual abuse. However, the move has received mixed reactions from sex abuse survivor groups.

Upon scanning the QR code with a mobile phone, a green, orange, or red light will appear, indicating the priest’s status and career history.

The primary purpose of the ID card is to confirm whether a priest is qualified to conduct mass or hear confessions, while also disclosing if he has been stripped of his clerical status.

Although the card does not provide explicit details about the reasons for the loss of clerical status, the red colour code acts as an early warning signal that the priest may have faced sexual abuse charges.

By simply scanning the QR code on the ID card, anyone can access colour-coded information about a clergy member.

A green light signifies no restrictions on their ability to lead mass or hear confessions. An orange light indicates some limitations, which may be due to factors other than abuse, such as recent ordination.

The red light is reserved for individuals who can no longer practice as clergy or have been stripped of their clerical status, without specifying the exact nature of the sanction.

Currently, French Catholic priests are required to possess a “celebret,” a paper document confirming their profession and qualifications. Critics argue that these documents are burdensome to keep updated, leading to calls for a centralised digital database.

“One of the Catholic Church’s top three most stupid ideas”

Christine Pedotti, who runs the Christian weekly magazine “Témoignage Chrétien” (Christian Witness), said the paper IDs “had always been used by priests while travelling, for example, to prove to another priest that they were authorised to co-lead a mass.”

“Today’s updated digital version is more modern and has a new feature that allows someone to check whether the priest has been suspended. It’s a good idea given the current context, and should prove quite useful,” she said.

However, the move has been described as a public relations stunt by abuse survivor groups critical of the change.

“It’s quite an exceptional measure which, in my opinion, is one of the Catholic Church’s top three most stupid ideas,” said François Devaux, former president of La Parole Libérée (The Liberated Word), told France 24, the French international news television network

He called the ID cards a “publicity stunt” and said, “This new ineptitude is a sign of the Church’s idleness.”

Despite the backlash, the French Catholic Church says the cards are just one of many solutions to combat sexual abuse.

The French Bishop’s Conference says bishops have already received their cards, and all 18,000 priests and deacons across the country will receive their QR codes by the end of the year.


The Telegraph

The Messenger



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