Jesus says in ਮੱਤੀ 23:9, “Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”
Some have misused this verse to denounce the Catholic practice of calling priests “Father.” Jesus’ words here are not meant to be taken literally, ਪਰ. They are an hyperbole designed to emphasize our heavenly Father’s sovereignty: that He is the true source of life and wisdom (ਦੇਖਣ ਨੂੰ ਪੌਲੁਸ ਦੇ ਅਫ਼ਸੁਸ ਨੂੰ ਪੱਤਰ 3:14-15).
We know the Apostles did not take Jesus’ words in ਮੱਤੀ 23:9 literally, ਲਈ they called themselves Father!
Saint Paul, ਉਦਾਹਰਣ ਲਈ, wrote in his ਕੁਰਿੰਥੁਸ ਦੀ ਕਲੀਸਿਯਾ ਨੂੰ ਪਹਿਲੀ ਚਿੱਠੀ, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (4:15).
Paul considered himself the “father” of the Corinthians because he had spiritually begotten them through the Gospel. This is the same sense in which the title is used by Catholic priests today. We call priests “ਪਿਤਾ ਨੂੰ,” not because they somehow take the place of God the Father, but because they are meant to serve as witnesses, living reminders, of His love, guidance and authority in our lives.
The fact is, the interpretation of ਮੱਤੀ 23:9 goes against the overwhelming evidence of Scripture.
ਜੱਜ 18:19, ਉਦਾਹਰਣ ਦੇ ਲਈ, ਕਹਿੰਦਾ ਹੈ, “Come with us, and be to us a father and a priest.” In First Thessalonians 2:11, Paul writes, “You know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you.” (See also Matt. 1:2 FF.; 15:4-5; ਲੂਕਾ 14:26; ਦੇ ਕਰਤੱਬ 7:2; 21:40-22:1; ਰੋਮੀ. 4:11 FF.; 1 ਕੁਰਿੰ. 4:14-16; Eph. 6:2; ਫਿਲ. 2:22; 1 ਟਿਮ. 1:2; ਤੀਤੁਸ 1:4; Philem. 1:10; ਹੈ. 12:9; ਨੂੰ. 2:21; 1 ਪਤ. 5:13; 1 ਯੂਹੰਨਾ 2:1, et al.).
The practice of calling priests Father continued in the early centuries of the Church. ਵਿੱਚ ਬਾਰੇ 107 A.D., ਉਦਾਹਰਣ ਲਈ, Saint Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch implored the faithful to “respect the bishop as a type of the Father” (Letter to the Trallians 3:1).
ਵਿੱਚ 177, the leaders of the Church of Lyons wrote to Pope Saint Eleutherus, ਨੇ ਕਿਹਾ, “We pray, Father Eleutherus, that you may rejoice in God in all things and always” (Letter of the Holy Martyrs of Lyons; Eusebius Pamphilus, ਚਰਚ ਦੇ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ 5:4:2).
ਇਤਫਾਕ, the title “Pope” (ਯੂਨਾਨੀ, Papa), which means Father, was for a time commonly used for all bishops, but eventually came to refer exclusively to the Bishop of Rome.
Given the biblical and historical evidence, Catholics might rightly ask why others do not call their spiritual leaders “Father.”