Spiritual Fathers

Spiritual Fathers

When a priest is ordained, he becomes a spiritual father for the entire community surrounding his church.

A priest lives out his vocation in imitation of Jesus Who came to serve and not to be served. His authority is a share in Jesus’ authority, teaching, and guidance.

Ideally, all fathers should selflessly care for their children by leading, protecting, and providing and the spiritual fatherhood of a Catholic priest should reflect this same sacrifice and service without wanting honor or power.

Some people read Jesus’ words out of context and assume that He taught that no man should ever be called father. But Jesus was not concerned with vocabulary as much as He was teaching against pride and hypocrisy, and warning against putting anyone in the place of God the Father.

Priests are fathers:

“But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one Teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in Heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one Master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Matthew 23: 8-12

Jesus is addressing something deeper:

Jesus exaggerates to make a point:

Jesus invites some men to spiritual fatherhood:

A special relationship based on natural fatherhood: 

Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers. In the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop is typos tou Patros: he is like the living image of God the Father.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1549

Jesus is working through his priests:

Priestly fatherhood points toward the heavenly Father:

Priests give new life in a spiritual sense:

The Church needs men who are true fathers:

A father who knows what it means to protect his children. And this is a grace that we priests must ask for ourselves: to be a father, to be a father. The grace of fatherhood, of pastoral paternity, of spiritual paternity. We may have many sins, but this is commune sanctorum: We all have sins. But not having children, never becoming a father, it like an incomplete life: a life that stops half-way. And therefore we have to be fathers. But it is a grace that the Lord gives. People say to us: “Father, Father, Father…” They want us to be this, fathers, by the grace of pastoral fatherhood.

Pope Francis, Homily, June 26, 2013

Jesus also said not to call anyone master or teacher:

Interpret Jesus’ words in context and in light of Tradition:

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