“while Mary’s motherhood is assimilated to the motherhood of the Church to the point of coinciding with it, Joseph’s fatherhood is never confused with the fatherhood of God. It is entirely a mystery of effacement before that from which it ‘is named,’ whereas motherhood is not named from anything else, but incarnates the human vocation and anticipates its fulfillment: ‘Perfect image of the Church to come, dawn of the Church triumphant, [Mary] guides and sustains the hope of your pilgrim people,’ as we hear in the preface to the feast of the Assumption.
“In order to understand why Mary’s motherhood and Joseph’s fatherhood are treated so differently, it is enough to remember that in Jesus’ double filial relation to Mary and Joseph, there is only one incarnate filial relation, his relation to his Mother. Joseph’s fatherhood is only representative: in other terms, it is priestly. Human fatherhood and motherhood are of course both images of the unique fatherhood of God, but they are such asymmetrically. If Mary is in her motherhood a figure of the Church, Joseph in his turn is a figure of the priest, who effaces himself before Him whom he represents (that is, both Christ the High Priest and the Father whom he makes present—‘Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father’) and who, in effacing himself, communicates him sacramentally to men.” . . .
“The spiritual reference to begetting from above, of which the heavenly Father alone is capable, confirms the ministerial status of human fatherhood. Far from it that man is unworthy of the name of ‘father’; rather, he will be declared worthy of it on the condition that he knows to cede his place to an Other who is Father in the strong sense, begetting to his own life those who were born ‘of blood and the flesh’ (Jn 1:13). So that this begetting from ‘above’ (Jn 3:3) might be accomplished, the child will be entrusted to the Church, who will confer on it baptism, and the human parents, through the Christian education they will give to their progeny, will make themselves servants of God, helping the new child of the Father to live according to its new condition. In this perspective, human fatherhood and motherhood appear not as ends in themselves, but as mysteries of effacement before the fatherhood of God and the motherhood of the Church.
“That which exists at the heart of the family finds itself in yet clearer form in the traditional titles of address for priests or monks. It is striking that such men are all the more readily called ‘Father’ when, in the natural sense, they have no children. Because their fatherhood is not particularized on any individual, it can be a pure sign of the universal fatherhood of God: it is sign only in the total non-possession of one who is called in a vocation to beget no one, accepting to be nothing to anyone in order to be a sign of God for everyone.”
Jean-Pierre Batut, "Calling fathers 'father': usurping the name of God?," trans. Michelle K. Borras, Communio: international Catholic review 36, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 303-304, 307. Cf. http://liberlocorumcommunium.blogspot.com/2009/12/durand-on-aquinas-on-divine-paternity.html.