Catholic priests in France will be forced to wear scannable QR codes to signal whether they are sex offenders as part of a national crackdown on abuse, according to church officials.
Under the new system, people can scan the wallet-size cards with their smartphones to receive one of three color codes revealing the clergy member’s “status,” according to the Bishops’ Conference of France.
Red shows that the priest has been stripped of his clerical position potentially due to child sex abuse, though the nature of the sanction is not specified.
Green is a sign that the priest is in good standing, while orange indicates he’s not yet fully qualified to lead Mass.
The system — announced May 10 in an effort by the church to appear more “transparent” — also applies to bishops and deacons, France 24 reported.
The Catholic Church hailed the program as an efficient way to bust imposter priests and “intensify the fight against sexual violence in the Church,” though it came under fire from some sex abuse victims.
“If we have to scan the QR codes of clergy members to reassure Catholics, it means the Church has hit a new low. It’s nothing more than a publicity stunt, and it shows the extent to which trust has been broken between the faithful and their hierarchy,” François Devaux, a former president of the church abuse survivors group La Parole Libérée (the Freed Word), told the outlet.
“It’s quite an exceptional measure which, in my opinion, is one of the Catholic Church’s top three most stupid ideas.”
Christine Pedotti, who runs the French Christian weekly magazine Témoignage Chrétien (Christian Testimony), called it “a small tool that, when compared to the scale of the problem, just isn’t enough.”
The tech-centric changes come after a bombshell 2021 report revealed that an estimated 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years.
Previously, Catholic priests in the country have been required to carry a document confirming their profession and qualification, though the paperwork has been criticized as hard to keep up-to-date.
Details of the program, such as where the priest must wear or display the QR code and the date by which they must comply, were not immediately clear.
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