A catheter for use in an electrophysiological procedure to ablate a site includes a metallic tip having a first work function and energized by a source of RF energy. The RF energy return path is through a relatively large plate of a metallic material having a second work function and disposed at a location removed from the ablation site. The difference in work functions of the tip and the plate, operating in the presence of an electrolyte represented by the intermediate tissue, produces an exchange of electrical charges through chemical reaction to create a galvanic cell. By loading the galvanic cell with a shunt resistor, it becomes a current source providing a current linear with and highly dependent on the tissue temperature at the ablation site. This accurate representation of the tissue temperature at the ablation site is used to regulate the RF energy applied to maintain the tissue at the ablation site at a predetermined temperature during the ablation procedure.