Catholic priests in France will be forced to wear traffic-light coded identification tags to allow the public to check whether they may have faced se**al abuse charges.
The scheme, announced by the Bishop’s Conference of France, will allow easier identification of priests able to lead mass and hear confessions.
Cards will feature a QR code, scannable by mobile phone, that will flag a red, orange, or green light depending on whether its holder had been stripped of clerical status.
But it also aims at protecting worshippers from se**al abuse, an issue made more pressing by revelations in November that 11 former or serving French bishops had been accused of abuse or had failed to report cases.
Members of the public will see either a red light, an amber light, or a green light upon scanning one of the new cards.
Red lights indicate that a priest has been stripped of their status and cannot perform various clerical duties. Orange lights will indicate that a priest has limited powers due to experience or sanctions.
Green lights will indicate that a priest is authorised to perform a full range of sacraments.
The system is designed to support existing paper documents used by the Catholic church in France as it tries to clamp down on se* abuse in its ranks.
In November 2022, 11 bishops were accused either of se*ual abuse or cover-up within the French Catholic Church.
Among those facing either criminal or canonical prosecution was the former Archbishop of Bordeaux, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard. He admitted to having ‘behaved in a reprehensible manner towards a 14-year-old girl’ when he was a priest, more than three decades ago.
On the back of a two-and-a-half year investigation, an independent report published 4 October 2021 detailed an extensive history of abuse within the church, estimating 330,000 had been victims of abuse over a period of 70 years.