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It is only natural for men to desire fatherhood, says Pope

By on Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Pope Francis spoke of "pastoral paternity" during his morning homily Photos: CNS

Pope Francis spoke of "pastoral paternity" during his morning homily Photos: CNS

There is something wrong with men who do not desire fatherhood, the Pope has said.

During Mass at the chapel of Casa Santa Marta this morning, Pope Francis said: “When a man does not have this desire [for fatherhood], something is missing in this man. Something is wrong. All of us, to exist, to become complete, in order to be mature, we need to feel the joy of fatherhood.”

The Pope said: “Fatherhood is giving life to others, giving life, giving life.”

He said for priests fatherhood was “pastoral paternity, spiritual fatherhood, but this is still giving life, this is still becoming fathers.”

Pope Francis said: “A father who knows what it means to protect his children. And this is a grace that we priests must ask for ourselves: to be a father, to be a father. The grace of fatherhood, of pastoral paternity, of spiritual paternity. We may have many sins, but this is commune sanctorum: We all have sins. But not having children, never becoming a father, it is like an incomplete life: a life that stops half way. And therefore we have to be fathers.”

The inspiration for the homily came from the passage from Genesis, in which Abram is promised the joy of a child and descendants as numerous as the stars. To seal the agreement, Abram prepares a sacrifice of animals and defends them from an attack by birds.

  • paulpriest

    …as a Father of three and a foster-father for a while to a fourth:
    It’s an honour, a privilege, an unafforded, undeserved boundless grace that is beyond any gift…any alternate is inconceivable.

    But there are many – especially today – who have been denied it [whether by choice or circumstance]

    Whether it be those who have had children but have become separated or alienated from them [for whatever reason]
    or homosexuals or the infertile, or those who never married, those who couldn’t adopt or foster, those who could not extend a ‘pastoral paternity’ over anyone…

    When there are those out there who cannot be fathers for whatever reasons
    The feeling as a father is one of such profound unworthiness…and guilt at being so negligent and irresponsible and ungrateful…

    So prayers all round methinks….

  • http://www.credobiblestudy.com/ Irenaeus of New York

    Priests and bishops as spiritual fathers beget spiritual children in Christ by way of being the ordinary ministers of baptism. As such, they satisfy the divine mandate to increase and multiply, which can be satisfied in the reality of its spiritual dimension.

  • Jon Brownridge

    Is this a prelude then to a future married priesthood?

  • Cestius

    I’m just a little troubled as to where this leaves monks and men in religious orders.

  • Cestius

    I don’t think so, I believe the Pope was referring to “spiritual” fatherhood here. The issue of married priesthood is separate.

  • Benjamin Vallejo Jr

    So true but we men only glimpse a part of fatherhood and for most of us it is of the biological kind. The fatherhood of God is much more than that and not even the fatherhood of priests can never approximate that.

  • DanRanFast

    With today law stacked against men, why would any man want to be a father. Even when the woman makes more than the man, he still get stuck with child support, and in some cases very limited contact with his children, so I as this question, why would any man want to be a farther.

  • mollysdad

    Very often, the missing element in men who don’t want to be fathers is a secure job that pays enough to enable him to support a family. Look at the levels of youth unemployment in Spain and Greece. In those countries a man would have to be a fool to desire fatherhood.

  • Tomas

    Good point! I think Francis’s comments are Part and parcel of his off-the-cuff papacy. I don’t think he considered the tens of thousands of religious brothers in making his comments that all men aspire to be fathers spiritual or biological.

    I also take a tiny bit of exception to his tacit equating of spiritual fatherhood to biological fatherhood. The former rarely if ever have to deal with the Drudgery associated with raising children than do the latter.

  • Chesterton

    Cestius: The Pope said: “Fatherhood is giving life to others, giving life, giving life.” He said for priests fatherhood was “pastoral paternity, spiritual fatherhood, but this is still giving life, this is still becoming fathers.”

  • Chesterton

    Tomas: The aim of the pope’s message was not that priests/brothers suffer less or more than men who become biological or adopted fathers, but that they both give life. Life is the message, and God is life. Men should aim to be more like God and desire fatherhood as we were made in His image.