Denver Newsroom, May 16, 2023 / 09:05 am
Catholic clergy in France will soon carry a standardized identification card linked to a national database that shows whether they are currently in good standing and can celebrate Mass and hear confessions.
“It aims to prevent impostors [false priests or deacons] from continuing to act to the detriment of the faithful and the sacraments,” the Conference of French Bishops’ website said May 5. It noted that current paper documents can be faked.
Clergy have always carried a document showing they are approved to celebrate Mass, called a “celebret.” The document, issued by a bishop or a religious superior, is valid for one year. It shows a priest is authorized to celebrate Mass and to hear confessions. The French Catholic bishops’ website compared the card to a press credential for journalists or an identity card for legal professionals.
France’s Catholic bishops first approved the updated clergy identification card at their November 2021 plenary assembly. The bishops made the change to help standardize documents between dioceses and religious communities and to provide real-time updates on authorizations and restrictions.