Trappist Monk|Monje Trapense
Trappist Monk|Monje Trapense (Photo credit: ireneantper)

In Catholicism the term “brother” denotes a member of a religious organization, often a monk. It also refers to those engaged in teaching, nursing or other works of charity, such as the “Christian Brothers.” Some brothers may be ordained as priests.

Historians often claim that Irish monks kept the flame of piety alive, preserved ancient legends and sustained scholarship during the Middle Ages when a highly corrupt clergy brought shame to the Christian Church. But it’s hard to know just how accurate these claims are.

In some Protestant denominations the term “brother” refers to a fellow believer, based on one interpretation of the word brother (adelphos) as found in New Testament Greek. And many believe that Jesus had brothers, based on their interpretation of the Greek word, adelphoi. This position is rejected by Catholics, as exemplified here:

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