National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Why Do Catholics ...?

Why do we call St. Joseph the foster father of the Church instead of the adopted or earthly father? The term ‘foster father’ seems to indicate, at least today, a sense of temporary custody — not full, legal custody.

BY The Editors

March 9-22, 2014 Issue | Posted 3/3/14 at 11:51 AM

 

We would never call Joseph the foster father of the Church, responds Colin Donovan, vice president of theology for EWTN: Catholics refer to Joseph as the foster father of Jesus to make clear that Joseph’s fatherly role is one of custodianship or guardianship, as Jesus’ true father is God the Father. If Joseph were called the adoptive father of Jesus, it would suggest complete fatherly rights he did not have.

John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation on Joseph, "Custodian of the Redeemer," explains Joseph’s significance in the Divine plan of salvation and is a must-read (EWTN.com/library/papaldoc/jp2custo.htm).

Have you always wondered about some aspect of the faith? Or maybe you’d like to know some trivia about Pope Francis. If you do, email us your question at editor@ewtn.com and look for the answer in an upcoming issue.