Priests in Germany need to up their game or they will be marked out as “black sheep.” And that is not just a figure of speech. A website that is slowly becoming popular among churchgoers there is asking users to rate their priests.
The higher the rating, the whiter the sheep that goes with the name of the priest.
The website is called – Hirtenbarometer which translates as the shepherd’s barometer. The website asks users to rate their priests on criteria like performance in church, with youth, with the elderly and the quality of the service.
There’s also a category to check if your priest is “up-to-date.” You can rate the priest on a scale of one to six and then an aggregate score will be drawn up and your priest will be given a color of sheep to go with the rating.
“This is an attempt at rating the priest’s work not the priest,” Fabein Ringwald, one of the curators of the website, told me in during a recent phone conversation. “There are only very few outlets for people in little communities to talk about what goes on in their church. We thought this is an entertaining way for people to engage in a healthy discussion about their church.”
Time magazine reported that the website includes approximately 25,000 parishes and some 8,000 priests that are ratable, from Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical traditions.
So, what about the world’s best known Catholic priest: the Pope? Well, at the time of writing this blog, the Pope had an aggregate score of 3.81 out of 6.
“As you may know a lot of people agree with the Pope and many don’t agree with him,” Ringwald said. “And we want this website to be a space for that kind of debate.”
His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, incidentally scores 4.43 out of 6.
While the website is exclusively in German some users may think this trivializes the exchange between a priest and his flock.
“Think of this as a the trip adviser for churchgoers” Ringwald said. “It aims to give the user some idea but I cannot say that this is the full picture.”