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Call No Man "Father"?

In Matthew 23:9 Jesus says to "Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven." For this reason, some Protestants accuse Catholics of ignoring Jesus' command, because we call our priests "father."But in the next verse, Jesus says to call nobody "teacher," "master," or "rabbi," either. Or "doctor," which means "teacher" in Latin. Is Jesus putting these words off-limits?

Of course not. He is using an extreme example in order to rebuke the scribes and Pharisees for setting themselves up at the ultimate authority instead of God. The apostles understood this. Many times, we see Paul addressing himself or the elders of the Church as fathers, such as in 1 Cor. 4:15 and 1 John 2:13. When Catholics call priests "father," we are simply following the example set by Paul and the other early Christians. As long as we put nobody above God, we are following Jesus' teaching.

  • "Bless me, Father...."? - A response to an article by a former Catholic, dealing mainly with the priesthood (catholicapologetics.net)
  • Verse by Verse - Places in the New Testament where "father" refers to parents or spiritual fathers (catholic.com)
  • Fathers - parts 1, 2, and 3 show the use of "father" in the Bible (scripturecatholic.com)
  • Call No Man Father? - Brief explanation, followed by many excerpts from the Bible (catholicculture.org)
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