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Call No Man Father?
To All the Precious Priests
Who Minister to Us
Downloadable PDF copy
Call No Man Father?
Since the mid-1990s, more than 1,000 Protestant ministers and
church leaders have come into the Catholic Church.* Many former
Protestant leaders, who discovered the truths of the Catholic
faith, tell how they used to lure Catholics out of the Church by
telling them Jesus said: Call no man your father upon the
earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
(Mt.23:9) Then they would ask Catholics
how they could be a part of a church that disobeys this order
from Christ Himself. Here are the facts:
Jesus could have said, Call no man on earth your
spiritual father but He did not say this. A literal
interpretation of Matthew 23:9 would prohibit all Christians
from calling their dads father, but this is not
what Jesus meant. Jesus used the word father in
re-stating the 4th Commandment, Honor your father and
mother. (Mt.19:19, Mk.10:19)
If Matthew 23:9 were to be taken literally, Jesus
Himself would be contradicting His own so-called command.
Jesus also used father in the
sense of spiritual fatherhood when He said: And do not
presume to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our
Jesus also referred to father Abraham on
other occasions. (See Lk.1:73, Lk.3:8,
If Jesus meant for
Matthew 23:9 to apply to spiritual fatherhood, He would
again have been contradicting His own so-called command. Jesus
NEVER ONCE commented that there was anything wrong with
considering Abraham to be a spiritual father.
St. Paul also uses father in the sense of spiritual
fatherhood when he says to the Corinthians: I became
your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel...
(1Cor.4:14) St. Paul refers to his
converts in like manner: ...whose father I have
become. (Philemon 10)
In addition, he is emphasizing his spiritual
fatherhood in 1Thessalonians which refers to himself as,
a father exhorting his own children.
(1Thess.2:11) St. Paul did not disobey any
so-called commandment by calling himself father.
St. Paul says Abraham is, the father of all the
uncircumcised who believe...as well as the father of
the circumcised..." (Rom.4:11-12).
St. Paul also speaks of our father
St. Stephen refers to the ancestors as fathers in
his speech in chapter 7 of Acts. Timothy is instructed, Do
not rebuke a presbyter, but exhort him as a father.
(1Tim.5:1) St. James calls Abraham
our father. (Js.2:21)
Would these earliest leaders of the Church
disobey the so-called command of Christ in Matthew 23:9?
If anyone says that Jesus meant to
prohibit the title of father being used for Catholic
priests, let them know that this is a recent tradition and
invention of Protestants mis-interpreting the Scriptures this
way, because NO WHERE DOES THE BIBLE SAY THIS.
In Matthew 23:8-10, Jesus is emphasizing that all
authority comes from God. Jesus said, You are not to be
called rabbi for you have one teacher..., one Father who
is in heaven..., one master, the Christ. Jesus was also
warning against seeking places or seats of honor
(Mt. 23:6) and mis-using position to exalt oneself. He warned those who exalt
themselves will be humbled (Mt. 23:12).
Many times, He speaks about the need for love and humility. He
is also saying that no person on earth should be worshiped.
In Matthew 23:9-10, Jesus is using hyperbole. He is
exaggerating to make a point, just as He does when He says,
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out...
(Mt.5:29) This is also not for literal
Priests are spiritual fathers because they baptize, giving
re-birth, as the Bible says. (Mk.16:16,
Tit.3:5) They nourish the faithful by
celebrating Mass, administering the Sacraments, and preaching
the Gospel of Christ. Our spiritual leaders deserve our honor
and respect. The Scriptures even call us to honor priests as
spiritual fathers, just as St. Paul referred to himself and the
Prophets many times, and just as Jesus honored the Prophets as
The Catholic Church has the fullness of the
Christian faith. (See Vat. II: LG 8, UR 4)
The Catholic Church has been given a feast
of many blessings. Catholics are called to share these and to
let others know the Truth. Many biases against Catholics go back
centuries. If other Christians were living on bread and water,
we would help them. Then, let us help them know the
Truths about the Catholic faith. Some day, they will be most
thankful for our love, charity, and true ecumenism.
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*For more information about a Catholic
ministry to Protestant ministers, see:
Coming Home Network at: