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 Post subject: History of calling priests "Father"?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:15 pm 
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Master
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I'm just curious what the earliest record we have of calling a priest "father" is. For example, do we have a record of a contemporary of Augustine calling him "Fr. Augustine."?

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 5:31 pm 
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Adept
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In English-speaking lands, the custom of calling priests "Father" isn't terribly old. I know a few hundred years ago, English priests were called "Sir," not, "Father." (Of course "sir" means "sire," another word for "father.") Other customs included calling priests, or at least some priests, "lord" or "my lord," or some variation of that. That's what "Don" or "Dom" and "Monsignor" means.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 6:48 pm 
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If I may be so presumptions, I would say St. Paul was the first to use the term. I Cor 4:15 states, “Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became you father in Christ Jesus through the gospel."

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 Post subject: Responsio
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:04 pm 
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Polycarp is essentially right. Although the priest is called 'Father' in the Confiteor (et tibi, Pater, quia peccavi...), other languages did and do have different forms of address for priests: Monsieur le Abbé and Don or Dom Firstname. 'Dom' is both Portuguese for 'Don' and, AFAIK unrelated to Portuguese, the title used with the name of Benedictine priests. Monks and friars of pre-Trent orders who are priests are 'Fr Firstname'. Of course in penal times after the 'Reformation' English priests were low-profile and went by 'Mister'. The Irish called all priests 'Father' and after Catholic emancipation in British lands in the 1800s the custom spread throughout the English-speaking world and in so doing BTW became a party badge of Anglo-Catholics.

I think both Orthodox priests and fully vowed monks, priests and non, are and have been for some time 'Fr Firstname'... except when a priest is writing to his bishop; then he signs his letter 'Priest Firstname' because the bishop is in himself a reverend father in God; priests are 'Father' to laity because they represent the bishop.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:41 pm 
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We don't call our priest "Father".

We call him "Abouna", the Aramaic word for father. Neat, huh?


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