Why do we call Catholic Priests Father? Matthew 23:9 (And do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one Father and He is in heaven. I am on a journey with a cradle catholic for his first time through the Bible. This is where we are and I dont have an answer for myself and so not for him. There is nothing in the Catechism to help. I would appreiate your thoughts.
Maybe this will help you
Call No Man “Father”?
I would argue it this way:
The text in question is Matt 23:9. It reads, “Call no one on earth your father (patera umon); you have one Father in heaven.” This is construed to mean Jesus, in this passage, prohibits priests from being addressed as “Father.” Is this valid?
Three biblical arguments suggest otherwise.
First, the preceeding passage used the title “Rabbi” in the absolute: “do not be called ‘Rabbi.’”
This passage, however, says call no one your (umon) father. It does not say: “call no one on earth ‘father.’” Jesus is using hyperbole to stress the uniqueness, sovereignty, and commonality of our heavenly Father with reference to earthly fatherhood.
Second, the above comports with other instances of hyperbole (exaggeration) in Christ’s teaching which are not followed literally even by those who want to follow the text in question literally.
Jn 6:27 – “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” No one says this text means we should not work for a living.
Mt 18:8-9 // Mk 9:43-48 – No one holds one should literally cut off ones hand if it is a cause of sin, etc.
Mt 23:8,10 – within the passage in question we read: “Avoid being called kathegetes teacher/leader/guide/master.” Are these titles rejected just like “your father”? NO!
Third, there are numerous instances in the New Testament where people on earth are called “father” using the same Greek word pater. St. Paul, a religious leader, is included. Below is a list.
Lk 15:12, 20, 22, 29 – In narrating the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus himself uses the word “father” four times when referring to the prodigal son’s . . uh . . dad.
Acts 7:2 – “. . . our father Abraham . . .”
Rom 4:12, 16, 17, 18 – for a total of five times Abraham is referred to as our “father” in faith
*1 Cor 4:15 – St. Paul describes himself as the Corinthian’s father in Christ Jesus
1 Cor 4:17 – St. Paul calls Timothy his “son.”
*1 Thess 2:11 – St. Paul says he treats the Thessalonians as a father treats his children
See also Gal 4:19.
Philemon 10 – In his imprisonment, St. Paul is the [spiritual] father of Onesimus.
Heb 7:9-10 – Levi’s “father” Abraham
Heb 12:7, 9 – fathers discipline their sons
James 2:21 – “. . . Abraham our father . . .”
*1 John 2:13-14 – John writes to “fathers” and calls his readers “children”
With respect, I want to point out that Protestants often train a laser beam on Catholic practices within a religious context that they seem to find unobjectionable in the secular world. It seems often to be a mentality of “whatever Catholics do, we don’t do it” - at least in terms of religious practices and beliefs.
What do Protestants call the man who participated in their conception? Uh, “Father”? So why no fuss about that?
It seems to be only when it’s something done by Catholics in a religious context that it’s a problem. The Lord did not say “call no man ‘father’ except your dad” …
Indeed many times this is the case.