On May 10, 2023, the bishops of France (CEF) announced that by the end of the year they would give deacons, priests and bishops a digital ID card. The measure will allow laymen and other priests to check whether the cardholder is authorized to say Mass or hear confession. It will thus automatically exclude any priest charged with sexual assault
“All you need to do is flash the QR code. It brings you to a website and the green light will immediately let you know the priest can say Mass,” says the Bishop of Troyes Alexandre Joly, spokesperson for the CEF.
In detail, a green banner signifies a priest can say Mass. An orange banner warns of restrictions, which may be due to lack of experience of recently ordained priests, or ongoing charges. A red banner shows the clergyman has been stripped of his ecclesiastical duties, and can therefore neither say Mass nor hear confession. All priests charged with sexual crimes are in this last category.
The digital ID will replace the paper document that currently serves this purpose: the “celebret”, which the CEF believes is too easily “forgeable (…) and complicated to update”. The digital version should prove much more reliable.
The rather transparent aim is to reassure churchgoers, and ensure that no priest charged with or convicted of sexual assault can continue to officiate, as this unfortunately has been the case in the past. The measure, passed in 2021, was a recommendation of the Independent committee on sexual abuse in the Church (Ciase).