Call No Man Father

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There’s a verse in today’s Gospel reading that anti-Catholics will use to try to refute Catholicism. If you’ve ever heard this objection, I want to help. Here is the chapter in my first book, A Minute in the Church, that covers this objection. I hope you find it helpful!

Call No Man Father

 Why do Catholics call their priests “Father”?  After all, didn’t Jesus forbid that in Matt 23:9?  Let’s go to the Scriptures.  In Matthew 23:9 Jesus says, “Call no one on earth your Father; you have but one Father in heaven.”  Now, did Jesus mean that you’re not even allowed to refer to your dad as your father?  Of course not; Jesus didn’t mean that at all.  If Christians took that verse literally, we would all have to refer to our male parent as “our male parent.” So, was Jesus speaking strictly in a spiritual sense?  Apparently, St. Paul didn’t think so.  In 1 Corinthians 4:15, St. Paul says “You do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”  And in the letter to Philemon, verse 10 St. Paul talks about his “child” Onesimus (remember St. Paul never married) saying “…whose father I have become in my imprisonment…”.  And in Romans 4:16-17, St. Paul refers to Abraham as “…the father of us all…”. The New Testament has many references to fathers. Just read the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.
It’s clear that St. Paul knew exactly what Jesus meant…not to attribute the Fatherhood of God to any man.  So the next time you see a priest, why not say, “Thanks, Father, for guiding your spiritual children.”

For further study:
1 Corinthians 4:14-16
Philemon 10
Romans 4:16-17
Matthew 1:1-17

If you’d like to learn more about how to answer questions and objections about the Catholic faith, order A Minute in the Church, A Minute in the Church Volume II and A Minute in the Church: The Mass today at

Today’s Readings


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