Was listening to the radio today, I don't think I need to say what station, and a Catholic priest was on with a humanist and they were debating certain issues relating to funeral services. The topic itself was interesting, but what was more interesting was the humanist calling the priest 'Father'. Here's a guy who doesn't believe in God (he said he didn't) and he was calling the priest 'Father'.
This is something I really don't understand. In some ways I can understand how the humanist just calls the priest 'Father' because that's what Irish people do. We've been taught from a very early age that priests are called 'Father'. This is not always taught directly, but it is always implicit.
The main thing I don't get is how the Catholic Church can stand over this. Matthews 23:9 says
And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
This seems pretty clear to me what Jesus means. The context has nothing to do with family relations so it's not a concern that we are not to call our biological fathers, father. It is a warning not to pride ourselves with titles.
Catholic scholars point to 1 Corinthians 4:15 to justify why they call priests father.
Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
Paul is not telling them to call him father, he was just reminding them of the special relationship he had with them as he had introduced them to the gospel. He was emphasising his love and concern for them, it was a not a proud notion of regard.
I wonder do Catholic apologists forget that Paul says "you do not have many fathers" in the very verse that they use to justify calling EVERY priest father. I think that adds up to many fathers.
I don't mean to offend but I will not be calling a priest I come in contact with Father. At this moment I also think that the 'Protestant' term reverend is not particularly appropriate either as there is only one who is to be revered. Perhaps Sir will do for these generally well meaning men of the cloth!