New German website lets parishioners rate their priests

If this catches on here in the States, it could make life very interesting …

From TIME magazine:

If there’s one thing people are opinionated about besides politics, it’s religion. But most priests don’t keep comment card boxes outside their offices, and now some enterprising Germans have come up with a solution. It’s called the “Hirtenbarometer”—try saying that three times fast—a.k.a. the “Shepherd’s Barometer.”

It is an intriguing idea— www.hirtenbarometer.de allows users to rate priests for their performance in church, with youth, with the elderly, etc. There’s even a category for whether or not your priest is “up-to-date.” The results are constantly updated with the new average. With the Rhineland still reeling from the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, it’s no surprise that the public wants to know: can I trust my priest?

The rating icon system is not without fault—a white sheep represents a good priest while a black one is a bad priest. If only the icon instead transformed from a cute wooly sheep to a sharp-toothed wolf as its ranking lowered. That would be more in line with Jesus’ admonition in the Gospel of Matthew: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” All the same, the site’s founders told Reuters they hope their system may eventually provide users with a warning for a suspicious priests.

Read the rest. You can visit the site here, and use Google Translate to follow along.

  • youngcanadianrcmale

    This can be really bad. All it can take would be one homily about contraception, sex, confession, etc. (hot button issues) or some offhand comment and these sites will fill up fast with hate comments and bad ratings. Furthermore, if bishops see those ratings and aren’t smart enough to take them with a grain of salt, this could be the reason Fr. X who is true to the Faith and doing the job of a priest of Christ, will be booted from his parish and moved to the booneys and never brought back into the central cities again in a diocese.

    Also, if you need a practical example, just look at ratemyteacher.com or ratemyprofessor.com to see how these systems work and some of the poor quality ratings a person gets.

  • greta

    This is about as bad an idea as camera’s in the courtrooms. Last thing a priest should be worrying about is his rating. We have politicians who look at pools to decide what to do. Priest need to make sure they are telling us what we need to hear, not what we might prefer to hear. Nothing like getting those butts squirming in the pews to help improve one’s life and faith.

  • melody

    There are a lot of consumer rating websites. Is that what we really want to be; “consumer Catholics”? Not to mention that it is an invitation to be uncharitable; the tendency is to be negative on that type of message boards. Priests are people, how often do we try to encourage them, or tell them they are doing a good job? Or talk to them in person if we are having a problem with something they are doing?
    (Not talking about abuse issues here).

  • pagansister

    I have noticed that on many sites that the only people that give an opinion are the ones that have something to complain about—that those who are content or happy don’t bother to contribute to the sites. Will that happen on this site? Happy folks quiet, unhappy folks posting.


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