The Catholic Church in France is to provide digital ID cards that will offer colour-coded background information on bishops, priests and deacons.
France 24 says that the French Bishop’s Conference has decided it will be more transparent by equipping clergy with cards which will certify whether or not the holder is fit to perform a sermon or has the right to hear confession.
France 24 says that the cards will enable people to scan a QR code to access colour-coded information on a clergy member. Green means there are no restrictions on them leading a mass or hearing confession. Orange indicates that some restrictions are in place, but not necessarily that the clergy member is an abuser (for example, a young priest may have been recently ordained and is not yet qualified to lead mass or confession). Red is reserved for someone who can no longer preach or practice, or that they have been stripped of clerical status – but the nature of the sanction isn’t specified.
Clergy in the Catholic Church in France have always carried paper documentation certifying their role, however this was thought to be too easy to falsify.
The new digital cards were first decided upon in 2021 after a report by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. It found that 330,000 children had been sexually abused by priests or other church-related figures in the Catholic Church in France over a period of 70 years from the 1950s.
The French Catholic Church says the new tool is just one of many solutions aimed at combating sexual abuse.