Home bible teachings WHY CATHOLICS CALL POPE THE ‘HOLY FATHER’. IS THIS BLASPHEMY OR IT...

WHY CATHOLICS CALL POPE THE ‘HOLY FATHER’. IS THIS BLASPHEMY OR IT IS RIGHT?

According to the Bible, only God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit merit the designation “holy.” Yet on innumerable occasions Catholics refer to the pope as the “Holy Father.” Kindly provide a rational explanation for this blasphemy.

Answer:
Only God is holy by his very essence; however, by a person, place, or thing’s association with God, it too can be called holy. To be called holy is to express the idea of consecration, that someone or something belongs to God. That is why the Bible can call many persons, places, and things holy.

In Genesis 28:16, the place God appears is “holy.” In Exodus 19:6, God tells the Israelites through Moses, “and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” God’s dwelling place in the Tabernacle is “holy” (Ex 28:43), as is the city of Jerusalem (Is 48:2). Even a goat, the victim of sacrifice to God, is called “holy” in Leviticus 10:17.

After Christ’s death and resurrection the Christians called themselves and each other “holy ones” or “saints,” called by God to be his (Rom 1:7). In 1 Peter 1:16 we read, “it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

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Since we are his holy people, and his people are the Church, it is fitting that the head of his holy people be called Holy Father—not because of his own merit, but because Christ died for him and for the Church that he leads on earth.

As we have seen at the outset of our historical review, the expression “Holy Father” means:

1. On the part of the faithful, a filial, loving relationship, which recognizes in the one so addressed or spoken to, a mission of spiritual fatherhood, expressing that of God toward us, in the threefold charge confided to the Church of preaching the Good News of salvation, of sanctifying the believers, and of gathering together the dispersed children of God. This is a special and supreme responsibility of the Pope in the Church’s threefold mission of teaching, governing and sanctifying, as Prophet, Priest and Shepherd.

2. On the part of the one who is so designated, the responsibility to live this mission in perfect conformity to the will of Christ, “the Holy One of God,” to live what God already asked of His People through Moses: “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lv 11:44; 19:2).

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It concerns, then, a fatherhood exercised in the name of God, from Whom “all fatherhood takes its name, both in heaven and on earth” (Eph 3:15), and from which the opening hymn of the Letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14) places the origin, while the verses 15-23 express how this fatherhood should be actualized in the apostolic ministry.

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