AI Creates a Catholic Priest; It Doesn’t Go Over Well

SeventyFour /
SeventyFour /

Most know that matters of the heart and faith can get a bit tricky sometimes. Naturally, leaders of the faith want to make things easier for us, so they try to help in any way they can.

For a Catholic media organization called Catholic Answers, one idea has not gone over very well.

In theory, most agree that Catholic Answers’ idea of creating an AI priest app to help those seeking answers about the religion was a good one.

As the group said upon creating the “Father Justin, your AI Catholic answers advisor” app, “Our goal with the Father Justin app is to leverage the power of large language models – or ‘LLMs’ – to create an engaging and informative experience for those exploring the Catholic faith.”

Wisely, the group noted that “Father Justin” was not a “substitute for human interaction with a priest, teacher, or spiritual advisor.” However, by giving him the title of father and matching garments, they felt they could create an “authoritative yet approachable” image, just like you would expect from your local parish priest.

But as the comments on the new app began to come, they realized all too soon that many were not fans.

What was the problem?

Well, for most, it was the fact that an AI character, a creation of the imagination essentially, had been given such things as the title of Father and, with it, the accompanying white tab collar and vestments of a Catholic priest.

In reality, priests work hard to earn those credentials, and many believe that giving an AI creation somehow lessened their hard work and the sacredness of their work.



Many even suggested it was sacrilegious…

In fact, so many disapproving comments flooded in that it only took a single day for the organization to apologize and do an about-face.

Mainly, “Father Justin” became quite simply known and referred to as just “Justin.”