A senior Catholic theologian has made a bizarre suggestion that robots could be ordained as priests.
Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio, a chair of theology at Villanova University, said the church should be “reimagined” with robots working alongside humans.
She claimed robots could have an advantage as they would be unable to commit sexual abuse and be gender-neutral.
The sister also said our current idea of what a priest is would change with evolving technology.
Sister Delio told Vox: “Take the Catholic Church. It’s very male, very patriarchal, and we have this whole serial abuse crisis. So would I want a robot priest? Maybe.
“A robot can be gender-neutral. It might be able to transcend some of those divides and be able to enhance the community in a way that’s more liberating.”
Delio added: “We tend to think in either/ or framework: ‘It’s either us or the robots’. But this is about partnership, not replacement. It can be a symbiotic relationship – if we approach it that way.
“The Catholic notion would say the priest is ontologically changed upon ordination. Is that really true?
“We have these fixed philosophical ideas and AI challenges those ideas – it challenges Catholicism to move toward a post-human priesthood.”
Her comments come after Midar – a robot priest – held a talk at an ancient Buddhist temple in Japan earlier this month.
Robots have already been active in Japan for several years, having conducted Buddhist funeral rites.
But, other Catholics reject the idea that a robot could ever act as a priest for the faithful.
Sister Mary Christa Nutt said the creations would not be able to understand the complexities of God’s nature.
She told Catholic News Agency: “They (robots) don’t of themselves suffice. There has to be the interior cooperation of intellect and will.”
By Anders Anglesey