30 October 2011

"Call no man your father..."

Our Lord said, “Call no man your father on earth...” and this is a one of the favourite texts quoted by some people against the Catholic practice of addressing priests as “Father.” 

We rightly refer to our priestly fathers because of the pastoral responsibilities they have, and the protestant objection to it is due to an erroneous interpretation of St. Matthew 23:9.  When Christ’s words are considered within their context, it is apparent that He was not finding fault with the use of the term “father,” but rather that He was rebuking the Pharisees for their pridefulness, and reminding them that God alone, Who is the Father of all, is the source of all authority. 

St. Paul himself said that he is the spiritual father of those whom he had converted (I Corinthians 4:15), and so adds further scriptural support to that of tradition in the use of this title.