How are catholics supposed to reconcile calling priests father?

When in Matthew 23: 9, it says "You must call no one on earth your Father, since you have only one father and he is in heaven. "

So, how are catholics supposed to reconcile calling priests father?

This might help:

I’ve never understood this either. I finally decided that the Catholic Church knows more than me, and I quit worrying. Hope this helps.

he was trying to break the dependency upon the hypocritical pharisees. even from the early days of the church, those in the desert referred to their leaders as ‘abba’ or ‘amma,’ ‘father’ and ‘mother’ respectively.

antonio vivaldi was a priest, but i never knew that until the classical music station mentioned it. the french called their priests ‘l’abbe’.

‘pope’ comes from the greek ‘pappas’, the basis of ‘papa’ in english.


If we were to take it literally then you wouldnt be able to call your dad father either!!..

The same way they reconcile calling their own male parents father.

I mean, look. If we aren’t supposed to call any man at all, ‘father’, then we shouldn’t call our own fathers ‘father’. But we do. So obviously ‘call no man father’ doesn’t mean that absolutely.

What does it mean, then, that St Paul calls HIMSELF a FATHER to several people (not his own children) in Scripture, if those people were not supposed to call HIM (a mere ‘man’) father?

And how come nobody objects to calling educators ‘teachers’ when (according to the very same Bible passage), we aren’t supposed to call anybody TEACHER either???

Also EO call their priests ‘Father’.

There was another thread on this a while back. My response then: Protestants will bring up the subject of “call no man father” when denying the Pope the title of “Holy Father” just as they use the “graven images” commandment to blast us for our statues. Well, the Bible refers to Abraham as “Father”. Even Jesus called him “Father”. The Blessed Virgin referred to Joseph as (Jesus’) “Father”. So there is no real prohibition on calling someone “father”, just like there is no flat prohibition on religious art such as statues, only idols of false gods are prohibited. Jesus meant something specific by this “call no man Father”, although I profess that I don’t know exactly what He meant by this. But it wasn’t a blatant “you can’t say ‘father’ or you’re going to hell!” Here are a few examples:

Judith 8:22
They must remember how our father Abraham was tempted, and being proved by many tribulations, was made the friend of God.

Joshua 24:3
And I took your father Abraham from the borders of Mesopotamia: and brought him into the land of Canaan: and I multiplied his seed

Luke 2:48
And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother (Mary) said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Luke 16:24
And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.

John 8:53
Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself…

Acts of the Apostles 7:2
Who said: Ye men, brethren, and fathers, hear. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charan.

Whenever we are confronted with seeming inconsistencies and conflicts in the Bible, we must ask “what did the author actually mean by this?” There is always some meaning that is not clear to us today due to the passage of time, geographic distance and clumsy translations.

My pastor said that in those days, people called clansmen, ‘fathers’. So it was in context of clannishness vs the One Father in heaven.

Catholics call priests father in context that they feed our souls with Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament.

This issue has been the bane of my Faith for decades. I haven’t slept for days tossing and turning over this massive doctrinal barrier to my full unity to the Faith. Yes?
No, This issue only gains importance in those seeking to undermine the Catholic Church, and in that I will leave it to them. (Wiping the dust off the sandals and retreating from the discussion.)

^ Bad answer. People do question faith. Just the way it is.

^ Bad sewer. People do question faith. Just the way it is.

It sounds more like “Don’t say anyone created you except God” than “Never use the word father for anyone but God”. It’s less about the word and more about what you mean by it. If I call a priest “Father” just because it’s a word I happen to refer to him with, that’s different than if I call him “Father” because I believe he is the creator, the “father” of the world. Just my two cents.
Now, I don’t know why we give them the title of “father”, creator or no. It’s probably just some tradition. As long as you don’t think your priest is God, you’re probably good calling him “father”.

This is actually a really good Bible verse to show why we shouldn’t interpret the Bible on our own. It’s worded hecka weirdly. I mean we are talking ancient Greek translated more or less directly into English and it’s like what. What even. I mean you would think that someone would just say “DON’T CALL ANYONE THE CREATOR OF THE WORLD EXCEPT GOD” but no, because it’s a 2,000 year old hecka foreign language. I mean, I would be willing to bet that we as modern day people don’t really have a full understanding of how that language was spoken. Which is why we NEED the Church to guide us with the Holy Spirit, otherwise we are lost in confusing words that can be interpreted a bajillion different ways.

Erm, people are allowed to ask questions. You sound like a Fascist.

We also call people teachers and doctors (which means teachers).

Thread closed due lack of charity.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit