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rate your priest

'Rate your priest' website hands power to the faithful

The German site lets users air feelings about their local “shepherd” – and Pope Benedict could be in for a shock…

Updated 15.55

A NEW WEBSITE PUTS power in the hands of churchgoers by letting them give instant feedback about their local priest.

The German site, called Hirten Barometer (or “Shepherd Barometer”) lets users class their hardworking cleric by a range of different attributes. Criteria include service to God, credibility, “finger on the pulse”, work for younger people and work for seniors. The average scores are represented as a sheep’s colour – with top priests turning bright white and underperformers a nasty black.

Andreas Hahn, one of the site’s founders, told Reuters that it aims to boost the quality of priests’ work as well as giving credit where due. “Pastoral work should be qualitative,” he said, adding: “Many parishes work well but their performance doesn’t become public.” He also said that he hopes the site will help to flag problem areas before they develop into something more serious. The site has registered 25,000 parishes and 8,000 priests so far.

Even deceased priests can be rated. So far, Pope John Paul II is a top performer in a light shade of grey, with users rating his service to the Lord especially highly. One anonymous user simply called him “A great Pope”. But there’s bad news for Benedict XVI should he happen to check the site out on his iPad – his “finger on the pulse” rating is letting him down. “There have been better Popes, like Johannes XXIII,” one user wrote.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said they were not aware of the site. A spokesperson added: “It is already the case that the faithful offer and support their local parish priest and bishop.”

Watch: Pope Benedict sends his first tweet from an iPad >

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