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Catholics/Why are priests called father?


Hi, this two are common questions from non-Catholics.
As a Catholic, May I just be educated as well.
1. Why are priest addressed as "Father" in English?
2. How could I find purgatory, even not the literal meaning. In the bible?
3. Why protestants believe the King James version is the true bible when I know that they have omitted some verses. How did the King James version exist.
The answers that you will give will not be used for debate, because I know God does not want any fights with regard to His belief, but this is just to answer if I have been attacked (which already happened a lot of times) by non-Catholics because I am very loyal to Catholicism and I guess they don't want that. Thank you.

Priests are called Father because the essence of the Priesthood is an exercise of Fatherhood.  The role of the priest is that he is ordained into the headship of Christ.  Through his priesthood he (standing in persona Christi) reveals the Fatherhood of God over the community he serves.  He who looks up the priest sees Christ and he who looks upon Christ sees the Father.  This incidentally is why it is impossible for the Church to ordain a women a priest. Women of their very nature cannot exercise Fatherhood.  Ordaining women would in effect totally change and subvert the notion of the priesthood.  

Incidentally: Their objection to calling priest's Father stems from Matthew chapter 23:5-10.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah"

Here Jesus commands his disciples to call no one their Father.  I guess Paul and the Scriptures themselves violate this command.  Romans 4:1: (King James Version) "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?" Paul clearly calls Abraham our Father.

The same Protestants who claim Scripture commands that no one be called "Father" have no problem calling people "teachers."  They also have no problem calling their biological fathers "Father."  

The THRUST of the passage is not a literal command against titles.  If it were than as I said Paul violated it when he referred to Abraham as the Father in Faith.  The thrust of the passage is a command against the misuse of office and the misuse of authority.  Authority and office are not for one's own glory but the Glory of God.  Hence when one calls someone their Father--biological or spiritual---or their teacher that person should recognize that Fatherood and teaching authority all stem from God and is in some way a revelation of God's Glory.  

I don't know why you can't find the concept of Purgatory in the Bible.  There could be many reasons for that.  I cannot read your mind on that subject. You are going to have to tell me why you think the Bible does not teach it.  I am going to grant that the Bible does not teach it--however.  My question to you is "So what?"  Why isn't it enough for that the authority of the Church testifies to the doctrine and that Tradition hands it on?

Your question presupposes the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura  It is not Catholics who have to prove anything.  Protestants have show WHY every doctrine must be contained formally and explicitly in the Bible--and WHY Catholics should not accept the authority of the Church or Tradition.

As far as the King James Version of Scripture goes---if you are dealing with Protestants who are trying to argue that the King James Version is the only authentic version of Scripture you are dealing with some very hard core fundamentalists.  Most Protestants who do not like Catholics are not "King James Only" advocates.  I don't know much about their cause--because----they are so much in the minority--and King James Onlyism isn't required for most mainstream Protestant fundamentalists that I have never really taken their cause seriously.  

As I understand it--the Protestants who think the King James Only version is the only authentic version of Scripture do so because they implicitly recognize a problem with the doctrine of Scripture Sola.  

Inspiration (Theopneustos- God Breathed) applies ONLY to the ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS of Scripture.  Those manuscripts no longer exist.  What we have are COPIES. While the copies are held to be accurate by Catholics and Protestants alike-they are nevertheless NOT inspired.  What is more--the Bibles people have in their homes are translations of copies--which are not inspired.  

The problem King James Advocates recognize is that Protestants cannot authentically claim to go by the Bible alone when technically speaking the "Bible" (original inspired autographs) doesn't exist--all that exist are uninspired copies--and the translation of the copy that people have on their bookshelves.  

As an aside: I pointed this problem out to a Reformed Presbyterian in my inter-seminary seminar.  While he would not be a King James Only advocate he was a Traditional Presbyterian Five Point Calvinist.  Ironically his response was "Well that is true but God's 'providence' guides the process of Tradition so that we have a reliable testimony in the manuscripts as to the authentic words of Scripture."  My reply? "If you believe that, welcome to the Catholic Church! That is exactly what WE believe!" He walked away in a huff.

As I understand it--the solution of the King James Only advocates is to suggest that The King James Version is the STANDARD and INSPIRED translation of the Scriptures.  In suggesting this the King James Only advocates overcome the problem of not having the original inspired manuscripts or inspired translations.  

The King James Version of the Bible was an official translation of Scripture for the Church of England begun in 1604 to solve the problems the Puritans (a subset of the Church of England) had perceived in Bible translations.  It is named after King James VI who convened the scholars (Hampton Court) to begin the translation and gave them guidelines in their translation efforts. The guidelines were that the new translation should essentially reflect the theology and structures of the Church of England. This was in reaction to the more radical claims of the Puritans who were an offshoot group from the Church of England.   

Right away you should see the problem.  Should translators approach the manuscripts and ensure that their translations conform to their preconceived theological notions, or should they let the manuscripts speak for themselves and translate them as they are?  Those who advocate for Sola Scriptura--if they are true to their own doctrine should answer that "The manuscripts should speak for themselves.  Translators should conform their belief system to the Bible, not the other way around."  

Protestants are no different from Catholics in how they approach the Bible.  Protestants approach the Bible with their already formed and developed ideas concerning their belief system.  They then read the Bible in conformity with their preconceived ideas.  In short--the Bible is read within the context of the Protestant Reformed Tradition (or whichever subset of that Tradition they belong to.)  

Catholics do this also--but have been very upfront about it.  We say unequivocally that the Bible cannot be isolated from the Tradition from which it was inspired nor from the authority of the universal Church.  

The "Vulgate" for Catholics is what the King James Version is for Protestants--except that Catholics do not believe the "Vulgate" is an "inspired" translation.  The Vulgate is the official translation for the Catholic Church but we do not hold it to be inspired.  In saying that the Vulgate is the official translation Catholics are not claiming that the translation is perfect or inerrant.  But Catholics ARE saying that the translation is a reasonable presentation of the Christian Faith and the teachings of Christ and the Apostles.  


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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