French Catholic priests must wear a scannable QR code so the public can identify if they are a sex offender
French Catholic priests will be forced to wear a scannable QR code so the public can identify if they are a sex offender
- Priests in France will be required to carry coded identification cards at traffic lights
- The cards indicate whether the holder has been stripped of its administrative status
Catholic priests in France will be required to wear coded identification tags with traffic light codes so that the public can check whether they may have faced sexual assault charges.
Cards will contain a QR code, which can be scanned with a mobile phone, which will highlight a red, amber or green light depending on whether the holder has lost administrative status.
The arrangement, announced by the Conference of Bishops of France on Wednesday, will make it easier to identify priests who are able to officiate Mass and Confession.
But it also aims to protect worshipers from sexual abuse, an issue that becomes even more pressing revelations in November that 11 former or serving French bishops had been accused of abuse or failed to press charges.
French Bishop Alexandre Joly shows his identity card during a press conference as part of the Conference des Eveques de France (French Conference of Bishops) in Paris, on May 10, 2023
Members of the public will see a red light, an orange light, or a green light when scanning one of the new cards.
Red lights indicate that a priest has been stripped of his status and unable to perform various administrative duties.
The database is updated as standard once a year, or immediately in the event of serious abuses.
Orange lights indicate that a priest has limited powers due to experience or sanctions.
Green lights indicate that a priest is authorized to perform all sacraments.
The system is designed to support existing paper documents used by the Catholic Church in France to crack down on sexual abuse in its ranks.
In November 2022, 11 bishops were accused of sexual abuse or cover-up within the French Catholic Church.
Among those prosecuted criminally or canonically was the former Archbishop of Bordeaux, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard.
He admitted to having behaved “despicably towards a 14-year-old girl” when he was a priest more than three decades ago.
Based on a two and a half year study, an independent report published on October 4, 2021 describes an extensive history of abuse within the church, estimated at 330,000 were victims of abuse over a 70-year period.
Under the new system, the public can scan the QR code to verify a priest’s status
The plan was approved by the bishops in November 2021 in light of the findings of the damning Sauvé report named after its protagonist.
About 17,000 receive identity documents called ‘Celebrets’ through the scheme.
Despite efforts, not all have been affected. Olivier Savignac, co-founder of Parler et revivre, an organization that collects the words of victims, said: ‘The Catholic Church in France is aging. There are many people of a certain age who oversee religious ceremonies.
“Do they have the skills and training? Because you have to flash a QR code, which is quite technical.’