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AI chatbot 'priest' named 'Father Justin' faces backlash online

by Lydia Davies
Father Justin AI.png - Banner image
Screenshot Catholic Answers

A new AI 'priest' named 'Father Justin', created by the Catholic teaching apostolate Catholic Answers, has faced backlash online.

According to the organisation, the chatbot was designed to answer questions about faith and provide "educational answers to questions about Catholicism".

However, believers have expressed concern over its capacity to engage in sacramental activities like confession and marriage.

Katie Conrad, a professor of English at Kansas University, highlighted this on a post on X. She said:   "I got 'Father Justin' to claim it is ordained... & that it can take my confession, absolve me, & marry me."

Catholic Answers IT director Chris Costello initially stated: "We are confident that our users will not mistake the AI for a human being."

However, following the pushback, Catholic Answers president Christopher Check announced the chatbot had been "rendered" as just "Justin". He elaborated: "We won't say he's been laicised because he never was a real priest!"

Check explained the decision was made to ensure the AI doesn't detract from its primary purpose of offering sound Catholic faith answers in an innovative manner.


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