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Robot priest, Fr Justin, is excommunicated from Catholic church after just one day

FR JUSTIN

A robot priest created by artificial intelligence was defrocked after just one day when parishioners kicked against it.

The virtual priest named “Father Justin” was set up by a US religious network Catholic Answers to tend to the needs of Catholics online.

But within 24 hours the computerised clergyman was excommunicated as he left churchgoers upset.

President of Catholic Answers, Christopher Check, said they have now made “Father Justin” to become a regular robot called “just Justin.”

He admitted the move had been made after getting an earful from followers.

Mr Check stated: “Recently, my colleagues and I at Catholic Answers have received a good deal of helpful feedback concerning another new technology – our AI app ‘Fr. Justin.’

“Prevalent is criticism of the representation of the AI character as a priest.”

When the app was launched, Catholic Answers’ Chris Costello said: “We are confident our users will not mistake the AI for a human.”

“We won’t say he’s been laicized, because he never was a real priest!” Catholic Answers said in a written statement to the National Catholic Register on Wednesday, April 24.

Mr Check told the publication: “We chose the character to convey a quality of knowledge and authority, and also as a sign of the respect that all of us at Catholic Answers hold for our clergy. Many people, however, have voiced concerns about this choice.

“We hear these concerns; and we do not want the character to distract from the important purpose of the application, which is to provide sound answers to questions about the Catholic faith in an innovative way that makes good use of the benefits of ‘artificial intelligence.'”

Catholic Answer said it would carry on looking into and tweaking the way it works with artificial intelligence.

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