Matthew 23:9-”And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”
The key to the proper exegesis of any passage is CONTEXT. Unfortunately our Catholic friends are famous for taking a verse or a passage completely out of its context. the above verse is no exception.
In order to fully comprehend what Jesus meant in verse nine, we need to start in verse one and see what is transpiring. It is quite obvious from verse two that Jesus is addressing the scribes and Pharisees. He is actually rebuking them for their arrogance. They make a pretence of sitting in Moses seat. Furthermore they desire to be exalted by the Jews. We see in verse four that they bind heavy burdens on the people.
More importantly they do all that they do to be seen of men. They desire the praise of man rather than the blessing of God. They love the uppermost seats in the banquet rooms and in the synagogues. according to verse seven they desire to be called Rabbi, Rabbi. (Kind of reminds me of the Catholic priests who demand to be called father).
They are soundly rebuked by Jesus in verse eight. Only one is to be called Master and that is Jesus.
Several things pop out at me in verse nine. First I see the phrase “your father”. Unfortunately this had become a title that was given to eminent teachers and founders of Rabbinical schools. The Jews had been falsely taught to look up to these people rather than God. It was also a term used to address the prophets (II Kings 2:12; 6:21). In verse eight Jesus said, “be not called”. In this verse He uses the active voice, “call not,” which is a direct indication that Jesus does not want anyone to address teachers or doctors with the title of father as a means of flattery or exaltation.
Secondly, I see the phrase “upon the earth.” Our true spiritual Father dwells in heaven and He alone is deserving of the title Father. All authority comes directly from God. Therefore, no spiritual leader on earth is deserving of the title father. No Catholic priest is deserving of the title father.
I certainly will never ever address any Catholic priest as father as they are undeserving of such a title (not according to me but according to Jesus).