When John Paul II wrote, “Do not be afraid of new technologies!” in a 2005 Apostolic Letter, it is, um, unlikely that he envisioned robo-pastor BlessU-2.

The brainchild of an evangelical church, BlessU-2 is a robotic pastor that issues automated blessings in Wittenburg, Germany, the same town where Martin Luther kicked off the Reformation 500 years ago when he published his 95 Theses.

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BlessU-2, which looks more like a conceptual robot from an 80’s movie, consists of a metal box with a touch-screen in the middle and electronic arms that move and flash lights.

It greets potential bless-ees in German with a “warm welcome” and asks if they prefer a male or female voice. It then asks users to select which blessing they would like, and then it “smiles”, raises its arms to heaven to recite the selected Scripture verse and blessing.

A church spokesman told journalists that the robot was an “experiment” meant to inspire discussion.

“One half (of people who have seen the robot) thinks it’s great” while “the other cannot imagine a blessing from a machine,” spokesman┬áSebastian von Gehren told The Mirror.

He said the robot seems to have a unique appeal for those who have been away from Church, with some people coming for blessings twice a day.

Von Gehren also confirmed that the robot pastor was *not* the future of the church.

“The machine should not replace the blessing of a pastor. In the future there will not be a blessing robot in every church.”

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Catholics have come up against similar questions, such as whether or not the sacrament of confession could be conferred over the phone, or through Skype or a text message.

In a video for Ascension Presents last year, Fr. Mike Schmitz explained why a priest has to be present to confer a sacrament.

“The short answer is that matter matters,” he said.

“As human beings we are soul and body, so there is a certain sense of proximity and presence. How do you know if someone is present? Because of their body. You can see them and touch them,” he said.

The presence of Jesus is real in our prayer, but for a sacrament, we need a priest, he explained.

What do you think of the robo-pastor? Is it a good way to reach out to people, or just creepy and weird? Let us know in the comments.