Photo ID Cards Being Issued to Catholic Priests

Churches in Wales and England adopt new measures to provide ID proof to their priests.

The UK is taking firm steps to ensure it becomes easy for anyone to identify Catholic priests. Earlier, the churches used the traditional method, where they provide celebrets or letters of commendation. Written in Latin, the priests used them for various purposes while they were traveling. For instance, these letters allowed priests to hear confessions from fellow church members in dioceses or parishes and say Mass.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales’ general secretary, Reverend Christopher Thomas, explained the logic behind this decision. According to him, the church used a system which allowed priests to travel around the world. At the same time, this system also signified the standing of the priests in their respective churches. However, as times are changing, the churches have realized that they need to modernize their ways. As this system is an ancient practice, the organization felt the need to bring it up-to-date.

Today, the Catholic priests from Wales and England are receiving photo cards, bringing an end to the age-old practice of confirmation. These crucial documents come in the size of credit cards and use plastic. It contains an image of the priest, along with a barcode and expiry date. After scanning the photo cards, information regarding the priest pops up. The bishop from the priest’s parish is the one who will sign the identity card.

The dioceses were notified of the change to the ancient system during the earlier half of this year. Since that time, they have already started issuing the new type of identity cards or are in the process of implementing this system. All the clergy in Wales and England will carry these cards, according to Rev. Christopher Thomas.

Rev. Christopher Thomas said there were several cases where imposters posed as priests. Two years ago, a man from Los Angeles spent time in jail after committing the crime of impersonating a priest. The individual, known as Erwin Mena, attended several weddings, where he officiated the services. He also listened to confessions from fellow church members and defrauded them out of large sums of money.

In 2013, there was another imposter, who wore the clothing of a cardinal to attend the election for a new pope at the Vatican. Ralph Napierski or Basilius, as he calls himself, was only discovered by security officials after they observed his cassock wasn’t the appropriate length.

The change to replace the Letter of Good Standing is a welcome move, as it is easier to update and efficient.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter