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.
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).
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