WARSAW (Reuters Life!) – A Polish priest has installed an electronic reader in his church for schoolchildren to leave their fingerprints in order to monitor their attendance at mass, the Gazeta Wyborcza daily said on Friday.
The pupils will mark their fingerprints every time they go to church over three years and if they attend 200 masses they will be freed from the obligation of having to pass an exam prior to their confirmation, the paper said.
The pupils in the southern town of Gryfow Slaski told the daily they liked the idea and also the priest, Grzegorz Sowa, who invented it.
“This is comfortable. We don’t have to stand in a line to get the priest’s signature (confirming our presence at the mass) in our confirmation notebooks,” said one pupil, who gave her name as Karolina.
Poland is perhaps the most devoutly Roman Catholic country in Europe today and churches are regularly packed on Sundays.
(Reporting by Kuba Jaworowski, editing by Paul Casciato)
While this all seems harmless enough, it is pretty creepy. The last thing I would want is the church tracking my child’s attendance at church through personally identifying information such as fingerprints. It would seem that the next thing would be to have a chip installed in the child and reader installed at the church to work in much the same way as EZPass. Attendance at mass is recorded as the child walks through the door. If they decide to bolt out the door after communion and avoiding the end of the mass, they could be reprimanded. Hey I never did that, but I am sure my sister did!
A really enterprising padre, with something else than the true meaning of Matthew 19:14 on his mind could use the tracking device to find one of the more vulnerable children for “personal counseling”.
Any use of tracking technology needs to be forbidden by the Catholic Church or by a priest, especially if it is used to “track” children. I have a better idea, why don’t we just track the priests who have been credibly accused of sexual crimes against children with a Clergy LoJack-off monitor. I also have some suggestions if we catch them in the act. I’ll give you a hint, it requires a long stay in a small cell and not a retreat center in Missouri or New Mexico.