This "priest" will never get tired giving blessings and reciting Bible verses to inspire church parishioners. The "priest" is even multilingual, speaking in German, English, Spanish, Polish, and French.
But this "priest" lacks something essential to become a credible and true man of God: It lacks a heart and the human touch. It's a robot, that's why.
A church in Wittenberg, Germany, has unveiled BlessU-2, a mechanical concoction dubbed as "robot priest," The Guardian reported.
It was created by the Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau as part of an exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual, and cultural upheaval that broke up Catholic Europe.
As seen from a demonstration video, the robot welcomes visitors and then asks if they'd like a blessing from a male or female voice. After a user presses a button, it requests the type of blessing the user wants. It then says, "God bless and protect you," followed by a recitation of a Bible verse while moving its arms and flashing its lights, according to the Mirror.
The purpose of the robot is to spark debate and "inspire discussion" about the role of artificial intelligence in the future of Christianity, while also commemorating the anniversary of the Reformation.
Stephan Krebs of the Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau clarified that they did not make the robot to take the place of a real priest since it obviously could not provide real "pastoral care."
"We don't want to robotize our church work," he told The Guardian.
Krebs admitted though that they were experimenting with bringing "a theological perspective to a machine," with the intention of provoking a "debate."
"We wanted people to consider if it is possible to be blessed by a machine, or if a human being is needed," he said.
Krebs said they found that church parishioners don't really want to receive blessings from a machine.
Church spokesman Sebastian von Gehren explained that they deliberately did not design the robot to have a typical human appearance, the Mirror reported.
He said people outside the church were attracted by the robot, with many of them "now coming every morning and evening."
Brunhilde Hoeltz-Mettang, a church visitor, said the robot was "interesting" but lacked the human touch.