Why are priest called "Father?"

While reading my devotions today, I read from Matthew 23. In verse 9 it says “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” Priests have the “title” of “father.” Why is that?

Just curious. :confused:

There’s a tract on the topic which can be viewed at this link -


If we took the injunction literally we couldn’t even call our natural father’s “father”. Christ didn’t mean that. You need to read Christ’s statement in context to understand what He’s saying. At the time He was referring to the Pharisee’s pride and arrogance, and not making a blanket injunction about calling nobody “father”.

The following paragraph comes from the above link -

Perhaps the most pointed New Testament reference to the theology of the spiritual fatherhood of priests is Paul’s statement, “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:14–15).

If you read further, that passage also says “call no one teacher”,

A Father is a man who teaches and protects and guides his family. Priests Teach us about God, they Protect us be gently reminding us of our sins and the need to repent and seek reconciliation and they Guide us on our path towards heaven. I could go on and on and…with the parallels between Priest Father and the family Father, but I think you get my point.:rolleyes:

God bless and protect all our holy priests. They are truly our Spiritual Fathers in the faith leading us to THE Father who is God.:thumbsup:

Both our earthly fathers and our priests…our spiritual fathers…both reflect the fatherhood of God. They both literally participate in Gods fathering and are therefore afforeded the privilege of being called father.

Even Jesus refers to Abraham as “father Abraham”.

God bless

Agreed. In verse 10 it says 10 "Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”
Perhaps that is why many Protestant churches call the head of their churches “pastor” which means herdsman or shepherd.

The pastors of the Catholic Church in Netherlands are called pastor.
The ones at Orthodox Church are called father.
Those at Protestant church here are called priest, or other names, don’t know which denominations they are at, sometime i see they’ve rev. I dont understand it completely although i’ve been raised Protestant

When I was an Anglican I heard this verse used a lot by my more evangelical friends, pointing out that it was wrong to call the priest Father. They never seemed to have a problem with having a ‘senior scripture teacher’ in their church, though, even though that’s also prohibited. I never really heard pastor used in the CofE. I think that the term Father encapsulates the roll and responsibilities of the priest very well. It goes beyond just being the leader of the community.

Perhaps. But its not going to change the fact that the bible itself calls clergy leaders who rule in the Church.

Hebrews 13

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

18 Pray for us,

1 Tim. 5
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

An ordainded minister in the Church is called a Priest with the prefix Fr so and so. A priest assigned to a parish is also called a pastor.

I believe that calling diocesan priests “Father” is common only in the English speaking countries, a small part of the Catholic world.

You might want to look at the incredibly huge Hispanic Catholic population which refers to its priests as “Padre”, which is the English equivalent of “Father”. What do you think “Pope” or “Papa” means in Italian?

As well as the portuguese speaking folks do here in Brasil.

They are our spiritual fathers.
Read 1 Cor.4:14-21
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

Think about your spiritual father, who was it that led you to Jesus Christ? That’s your spiritual father, that’s what Paul is talking about.

Also perhaps you did not know this bit of knowledge…but, St. Paul was a Catholic Priest. Wow. That is beautiful!

Your earthly biological father has that title as well. Isn’t God so good to us that He gives us so many gifts.


Gachristian sense father and leader or teacher has been scripturally explained why not clear up some of your other concerns about Catholic teaching. As a former non-denominational Protestant I can tell you Catholic teachings are the most faithful to scripture.

By example of Paul, who told the Thessalonians he was father to them.
1 Thes 2:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father
He did again in 1 Cor.4:15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father.
Same thing. As a Catholic, you should have learned that. Apparently you did not really learn the Catholic Faith before leaving it.

Here are a few other things you probably didn’t know:

Discerning the Church founded by Jesus Christ:

  1. It was built by Jesus Christ himself (Matt 16:18) which means that His church must be about 2000 years old. This fact alone eliminates the vast majority of churches.
  2. Jesus only built ONE church (Matt 16:18) hence there is only one.
  3. The Church which Jesus Christ founded is the one to whom He revealed and which declared and decreed which books are to be contained in the New Testament.
  4. Jesus handed His Authority to His Apostles (Mat 28:16-20), therefore His Church must be able to trace it’s chief pastors back in a line of succession to The Apostles.

Do you have any idea when your faith was founded and by whom? You may find this enlightening:
If you are Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk in the Catholic Church, in 1517.
If you belong to the Church of England (Anglican), your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry.
If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded when John Knox brought the teachings of John Calvin to Scotland in 1560.
If you are Unitarian, your group developed in Europe in the 1500s.
If you are a Congregationalist, your religion branched off Puritanism in the early 1600s in England.
If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1607.
If you are a Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.
If you are an Episcopalian, your religion came from England to the American colonies. It formed a separate religion founded by Samuel Seabury in 1789.
If you are a Mormon (Latter-day Saints), Joseph Smith started your church in Palmyra, N.Y. in 1830.
If you worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.
If you are a Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year your religion was founded by Mary Baker Eddy.
If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, your religion was founded by Charles Taze Russell in Pennsylvania in the 1870s.
If you are Pentecostal, your religion was started in the United States in 1901.
If you are Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith founded your church in the 1960’s
If you worship in the non-denominational, Evangelical, etc. tradition, your religion was started by men in the 1970’s

If you would like to learn more about the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church, please contact the folks at Catholics Come Home chnetwork.org/. I promise, if you reunite yourself to Jesus Christ through His Church, you will experience the great gift the He has promised to those who follow Him. As Jesus said, “He who eats My body and drinks My blood lives in Me and I in him and I will raise him up on the last day.” And He is faithful and sure to keep His promises. Repent, turn to the Gospel and be saved and you will have everlasting life.

Grace and peace be with you.

Eph 2: 8-9, John 3:16, I John 5:13, Phil 3:9.

I am saved. I am not Catholic. I am a believer in Jesus.

I was asking a simple question. Thank you.

. I promise, if you reunite yourself to Jesus Christ through His Church, you will experience the great gift the He has promised to those who follow Him. As Jesus said, “He who eats My body and drinks My blood lives in Me and I in him and I will raise him up on the last day.” And He is faithful and sure to keep His promises. Repent, turn to the Gospel and be saved and you will have everlasting life.

Grace and peace be with you.

I was asking a simple question. Thank you.

It’s a simple answer. Did you check out the link? chnetwork.org/information/.

Though not generally known, many non-Catholic clergy and laity from across the denominational spectrum are coming home to the Catholic Church. They come with great enthusiasm and commitment to follow Jesus Christ wherever He leads, even if this means coming out of their previously comfortable and familiar spiritual surroundings into the Catholic Church. Many of them come with great gifts for ministry, including years of training and leadership experience, along with information and ideas for authentic Church renewal. The CHNetwork was established to help these clergy and laity come home and then be at home in the Catholic Church.

Grace and peace be with you.

Yours in Christ.

Why did you abandon the Catholic Faith? And what exactly do you believe about Jesus? That he was a real man? That he is really God? I believe all that my Holy Mother tells me about Him: and that is Faith. The opinions of men, even if partially true, can never amount to the theological virtue of faith, which is necessary for salvation.

I left the Catholic Church in my late teens when I accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, that He paid the penalty for my sins. Yes, pretty much what many Catholics believe, but it was then when it became real to me. Before that it was rituals without relationship. I started reading the Bible on my own and was told that was not right and I should just listen to the priest and Pope, etc. I have since met many Catholics who I believe do have a real relationship with Jesus and do (as I was told was wrong, read the Bible on their own.) I do question the doctrine of Mary being without sin, the doctrine of purgatory as well as a few other Catholic doctrines that I do not believe line up with Scripture.

To answer your question about Jesus, I believe that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. I do profess the Nicene Creed as do many Protestants. Those denominations such as Jehovah Witnesses and Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are a different story.

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