If No One Is Pope, EVERYONE is pope! A Meditation on the Gospel for the 21st Sunday of the Year

The Gospel today sets forth the biblical basis for the Office of Peter, the Office of the Papacy, for Peter’s successors are the Popes. The word “Pope” is simply an English version (via Anglo-Saxon and Germanic tongues) of the word “papa.” The Pope is affectionately called “Papa” in Italian and Spanish as an affectionate indication that he is the father of the family, the Church.

That Peter receives an office, and not simply a charismatic designation we will discuss later. As to certain objections regarding the office of the Papacy, we will also deal later. But for now lets look at the basic establishment of the Office of Peter in three steps.

I. The Inquiry that Illustrates – The text says, Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?

It should be noted that, in asking these questions, Jesus is not merely curious about what people think of him. He seems, rather, to be using these questions as a vehicle by which to teach the apostles, and us, about how the truth is adequately revealed and guaranteed.

Jesus’ first two questions reveal the inadequacy of two common methods:

1. The Poll – Jesus asks who the crowds say he is. In modern times we love to take polls, and many moderns put a lot of weight in what polls say. More than just politics, many people, Catholics among them, like to point out that X% of Catholics think this, or that, about moral teachings, or doctrines and disciplines. It is as if the fact that more than 50% of Catholics think something, it must be true, and that the Church should change her teaching based on this.

But, as this gospel makes clear, taking a poll doesn’t necessarily yield the truth. In fact ALL the assertions of the crowd were wrong, no matter what percentage thought them. Jesus is not John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets redivivus. So, running the Church by poll taking or democracy seems not to be the model that works.

2. The Panel – Jesus, having taught this implicitly, now turns to a panel of experts, a “blue ribbon committee,” if you will. He asks the twelve, “Who do you (apostles) say that I am?” Here we simply get silence. Perhaps they were looking around like nervous students in a classroom not wanting to answer, lest they look like a fool. The politics on the panel leads not to truth, but to a kind of self-serving, politically correct silence.

That Peter finally speaks up is true. But, as Jesus will say, he does not do this because he is a member of the panel, but for another reason altogether.

Hence the blue ribbon panel, the committee of experts, is not adequate in setting forth the religious truth of who Jesus is.

And through this line of questioning, Jesus instructs through inquiry. Polls and panels are not adequate in yielding the firm truth as to his identity. All we have are opinions, or politically correct silence. Having set forth this inadequacy, the Gospel now presses forth to describe the plan of God in adequately setting forth the truths of faith.

II. The Individual that is Inspired –The text says, Simon Peter said in reply,”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

We are taught here not merely that Peter spoke, but also how he came to know the truth. Jesus is very clear to teach us that Peter spoke rightly, not merely because he was the smartest, (he probably wasn’t), or because some one else told him, (Jesus is clear that flesh and blood did not reveal this to him), and not merely because because he guessed, and just happen to get the right answer. Jesus teaches that Peter came to know the truth and speak it because God the Father revealed it to him. God the Father inspires Peter. There is a kind of anointing at work here.

So here is God’s methodology when it comes to adequately revealing and guaranteeing the truths of the faith: he anoints Peter.

It’s not polls, or panels that God uses, it’s Peter.

And while truths may emerge in the wider Church, reflecting what is revealed, it is only with Peter and his successors that such views can be definitively set forth, and their truth adequately guaranteed. Thus, the other apostles are not merely bypassed by God, but He anoints Peter to unite them and give solemn declaration to what they have seen and heard.

The Catechism says of Peter and his successors, the popes:

When Christ instituted the Twelve, he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them….The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head. This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head. As such, this college has supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff. The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council. But there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter’s successor. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #s 880-884 selected)

All these truths point back to this moment when we see how God himself chooses to operate.

And note too, the dimension of faith we are called to have. We are to assent to the Pope’s teaching and leadership not merely because we think he is smarter, or because it might happen that he had power, riches other worldly means that might impress us or compel us to assent. Rather, no, we assent to the Pope because, by faith, we believe he is inspired by God. It is not flesh and blood in which we put our trust, it is God himself, whom we believe has acted on our behalf by anointing someone to affirm the truth, and adequately guarantee that truth to be revealed by God.

And this then leads to the final stage wherein Jesus sets forth a lasting office for Peter.

III. The Installation that is Initiated – The text says, And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus does not merely praise Simon for a moment of charismatic insight. He goes further, and declares that he will build his very Church upon Simon, and thus he calls him, Peter (Rock). And here too, he does not merely mean this is a personal gift or recognition that will die with Peter. In giving him the keys, he is establishing an office, not merely indicating a personal promotion for Peter. This will be God’s way of strengthening and uniting the Church. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus says more of this:

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, all that he might sift you all like wheat, but I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith may not fail; and when thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren. (Luke 22:31)

Hence, it is clear once again that God’s plan for the Church is to strengthen one man, Peter and his successors, that in turn the whole Church may be strengthened and united.Thus the Lord Jesus establishes not only Peter, but also his office. This is God’s vision and plan for his Church.

It is true many have objected to this teaching. There is no time here to do a full apologetical  reply to every objection. But frankly most of the objections amount to a kind of wishful thinking by some, who want this text to mean something other than what it plainly means.  Nothing could be clearer that the fact that Jesus is establishing Peter and an office which will serve as a foundation for the unity and strength of his Church.

Some object that within verses Peter will be called “satan” and will later deny Christ. But Jesus knew all this, and still said and did what he does here.

Others object that Jesus is head and foundation, that he is the Rock. True enough, but apparently Jesus never got the objectors’ memo, for it is he himself who calls Peter rock, and establishes him with the authority to bind and loose. It is also true that both Jesus and Peter can be head and rock, in terms of primary and secondary causality (more on that HERE).  And yet again, that Peter and his successors are head and rock by making visible and being the means through which Christ exercises his headship and foundational aspect.

Finally, to return to the title of this post, “If no one is Pope, EVERYONE is pope!For the fact is, without a visible head, there is no principle on earth for unity in the Church. The Protestant experiment tried to replace the Pope with scripture and gave it sole authority. But Protestants cannot agree on what Scripture says, and have no earthly way to resolve their conflicts. While they say that authority resides in Scripture alone, the fact is, in claiming the anointing of the Holy Spirit and thus the ability to properly interpret Scripture, they really place the locus of authority within themselves, and become the very pope they denounce. Having denied that there is a Pope they become one themselves. If no one is pope, everyone is pope.

I have read that some objectors think Catholics arrogant in asserting that we have a Pope whom we trust to be anointed by God to teach us without error on faith and morals. But what is more arrogant, to claim there is a Pope other than me, or to in fact act like one myself?

In the end, the Protestant experiment is a failed one. Many estimates place the number of Protestant denominations as high as 30,000. I personally think this is slightly exaggerated, but not much. They all claim the Scriptures as their source of truth but differ on many, very essential matters, such as the necessity of baptism, once saved always saved, sexual morality, authority etc. When they cannot resolve things they simply subdivide. There is an old joke, told even among protestants that goes:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!” Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

A strange little joke, and not entirely fair since most Protestants of different denominations I know get along fine personally. But the truth is, the denominations disagree over many very essential things. The Protestant experiment is a failure that leads only to endless divisions. The Church needs a visible head. The Bible alone does not suffice, for there are endless disagreements on how to interpret it. Some one must exist to who all look and agree that he will resolve the differences after listening.

Jesus has installed an individual in this role to manifest his office of rock and head and that individual is Peter and his successors.

Here’s a light-hearted video I put together commemorating the Pope’s many visits to unite and strengthen us.

40 Replies to “If No One Is Pope, EVERYONE is pope! A Meditation on the Gospel for the 21st Sunday of the Year”

  1. As I came to the part of the joke on the, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912” a little visualization of a firm length of firewood in the round (unsplit and strong) suddenly splitting into successively smaller pieces until; in less than a second; it was reduced to a vast number of tiny bits of fragile kindling.
    Thanks for the message.

  2. Epistle 234
    My some thoughts about “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, in the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope preached Gospel of Matthew 16:13-20.
    Gist of the Gospel of Matthew is that Peter’s confession of Christ.
    Peter confessed that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God.
    I quite agreed with Msgr. Charles Pope on the homily.
    Secondly, now permit me to add some matters to relate to the homily hereafter:
    While Peter admitted that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus replied that “And I tell you that you are Peter, on this rock (Peter) I will build my church (the Church)”.
    Catholics all ought to admit Peter’s confession and Jesus’ answer above because they are premises that we suppose is true.
    In other words, as a Catholic, I have admitted four basis premises. Those are God’s existence, Jesus is Son of God, Jesus is Founder of the Catholic Church and Peter is a Head of the Catholic Church.
    Although in four Gospels have no the word Pope or Papa, but we ought to understand that a Head of the Catholic Church called Pope or Papa or Holy Father.
    Further, Jesus told Peter that “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”. Thus, Jesus declared that Peter was second figure after Jesus or Peter was a Head of Roman Catholic Church.
    Suppose that someone doesn’t admit all four premises above, he/she is not a Catholic.
    However, someone only admit God’s existence. He/she is Muslim or Protestant.
    Further, someone doesn’t admit all four premises. He/she will be called a Communist.
    If someone doesn’t admit all four premises above, I am not reason with him/her.
    I only reason with Catholics./.

    1. Well these are certainly very interesting points to think about it, we’re glad you are here with us to help us think more about them as we continue to grow in life both in thought and in spirit. I too, also like Msgr. Pope’s post very much as well!

      1. my apologies again. please do delete this message. Thank you very much and thank you so very much for all you do.

        1. oh dear, my sympathies! Thank again, nonetheless, please of course please feel free to remove any aforementioned comments. 🙂 Thank you and the Church for doing so much, so many of us see, and we are extremely grateful. [please delete this comment as well- thank you!]

  3. Amen! I often hear these people who say they don’t or do believe this or that which is contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches, or that the church should do this or that which goes against church teaching. When I hear these things, I think that they think that they are the pope. Who am I to tell the church She should change this or that teaching? What pride. And then to attack the pope on top it! In reality they themselves want to be pope. They just won’t admit it.

    I like the part about the poll. In history, polling has been failure. The people decided Noah was wrong, Moses was wrong, Jesus should be put to death, Hitler was elected by a majority, and on and on again! The number of people who believe a thing to be true is not very telling of what the Truth is. In fact I think if an idea is popular, then its a good chance it is a bad idea. Not always, but a lot of time.

    Thanks for for you clear teaching Msgr.! Keep it up. I really lke the ones that nail me between the eyes, and I have to change. It hurts, but I need it.

    1. I think it was Aristotle whose opining on poltiical systems called democracy effectively “mob rule”. He theorized that a minority can get enough ingorant/scared people to vote a particular way with coercion/force/manipulation to get anything passed, regardless of the stupidity of the idea.

  4. Was it not Luther that proclaimed, towards the end of his life that “I have created 1,000 Popes”?

  5. Confessing Yeshua as the Son of God is the “rock” (foundation) He was referring to. It was for ALL, not just Peter. Also, concerning Luke 22:31: This was also for ALL of us. As it is written: “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” Plus, if Peter was the first Pope, then why did Paul rebuke him in front of everyone? And even more than that, why did James have the final say in the council at Jerusalem? Also again, Paul warned the elders that wolves would come from among them. He also said that divisions must happen to see who has God’s approval. That said, successor of Peter/apostolic succession should mean nothing to you.

    1. 1) If Christ was referring to Peter’s confession, he would not have bestowed on Peter (in the original Greek, the “you” is singular, not plural, thus referring to Peter, not everyone) the “keys to the kingdom of Heaven”, a clear reference to the office of steward in the ancient Davidic kingdom, an office which had authority second only to the King himself.

      2) Christ’s words in Luke are similarly directed at Peter, as the “you” used in the original Greek is singular, not plural.

      3) The pope, when teaching authoritatively on matters of faith and morals, is prevented from teaching error. This does not mean that they are prevented from acting in error. Peter taught definitively in Jerusalem that Christians were all equal, Jewish Christians were not somehow more special. However, when he came to Antioch, he ACTED contrary to what he taught, causing a stir among the Gentile Christians. Paul thusly brought to his attention the scandal that he was causing.

      4) Re-read Acts again. The Council is called to answer the question: “Is circumcision as under Mosaic law a requirement for salvation (see Acts 15:1)?” After much debate among those gathered in Jerusalem, it is clear the matter is decided by PETER, for after he says “On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they. The whole assembly fell silent… (15:11b-12).” Peter states simply the DOGMA that we are saved by grace, not by circumcision, thus resolving the issue that the Council was called for. James’ judgement dealt not with the question at hand, but on means to bring both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians together.

      1. You are Aaron and upon the foundation of confessing Jesus as the Son of God is how the church is built up. Get it. Who cares if He says, “you are Peter.” Again, not the point. The “you” is obviously for all if you understand what the foundation is. Also, binding and loosing is binding devils and loosing the saints from the Evil One’s grip. Again, for all. I’d go on, but your heart is hardened, your ears can’t hear, and your eyes aren’t able to see. Unfortunate. Very unfortunate.

    2. Thanks for making a good answer. Sounds like anonymous is a pope in his own rite, or should I say “ecclesial communion” and has perfectly illustrated the title “…..EVERYONE is Pope.”

      1. A blasphemer who calls himself “Holy Father”. Yes, that is your pope. While either right or wrong, yet mostly mistaken, there are many leaders in protestantism. But are they as guilty as someone who dares to call themselves “Father” as far as conquering the laity, AKA Nicolatian, is concerned? Why conquering the laity? The laity supposedly can’t have the Lord’s Supper or be forgiven of sins without you.

        1. So I guess your view means you are pope Addison, for it is You arbitrate truth and discern the true meaning of scripture. Is that not also arrogant Addison, or as you say, blasphemy….for you claim to personally have the capacity to infallibly interpret scripture.

  6. Msgr:

    The 30,000 denominations is actually a very liberal guess, based on official titles. For example, there are the “Free Methodists”, the “Methodists”, the “Wesleyans”, and the “United Methodists”. Essentially, the doctrinal differences between the different variations of Methodists are minimal. It is however, in discipline that the differences are pronounced. In addition, there are some denominations that are essentially a joke: there are a couple that you can get “ordaiined” by taking several classes online and then voila! you are an ordained minister in that “church” and can now get your kids out of state-mandated standardized tests.

  7. Jesus just follow the rule of thumb.There must be a leader when He will ascended into heaven.When He leaved the earth the church administered by his successor.The church that will not fall when destructor came.

  8. From the perspective of the East, the trouble with Rome’s exegesis of this passage is an historical one. Peter was 1st a leader in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14), but having given up that authority to St James by Acts 15. Peter then was then elsewhere in Palestine, then at Antioch (Traditionally, by all sources, Bishop from 36-43 AD). He of course returned to Palestine after the death of Herod, and does not appear to have reached Rome before about AD 60 (or at any rate until after Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans). In the meanwhile, Peter, had only one known “son” (1Pet 5:13) – St Mark – who spent his career, traditionally, in Egypt. Just as the keys afford special significance, so does sonship.
    How then, does Peter’s death at Rome, cause his successors to be exclusively those who succeeded him in Rome? No one disputes that Peter’s commission was to firmly establish the Church, and no one doubts that he did so to one degree or another, throughout the empire. Historically speaking again, the Roman Bishop led the Church to the degree that the City of Rome led the empire. When the Capital had been moved to Byzantium, that leadership changed (Council of Chalcedon, Canon 28), and for several hundred years thereafter, Popes were appointed by Constantinople (including St Gregory the Great, St Agatho, etc).

    Now, to make myself clear, I believe the Church, as any government, worked best when there was a stong executive (Whether Rome or Constaninople), and a strong legislative branch (ie Council) as a balancing power. The Church works best, moreover, when there is strong Orthodoxy as well as strong Catholicity. This only will take place when there is unity between East and West. That can’t occur, though, so long as the Catechism describes the Bishop of Rome, excellent as he may be, as an absolute monarch (“For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”) God alone is sovereign over the Universal Church, and His Vicar has always been and always will be the Holy Spirit. The Pope, the Church, and the whole world would be better off if the Pope accepted a role as Prime Minister instead.

    1. From the persective of what “East?” Schismatic or those in union with Rome. I find your use of history somewhat unusual and also ignoring of a lot of other history, patristic primarily that confers special honor and authoity upon Rome. Eastern Orthodoxy’s rather uninspiring example of unity is a kind of experiential evidence of what happens connections to the Pope are severed. That disunity is on rather shocking display in the Church of the Holy Sephulchre. Also, I am not sure what practical difference your Prime Minister model would offer nor am I sure your description of the Catechism’s model as “absolute monarch” is fair either.

      1. Dear Msgr, in reply.
        I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian in a Roman Catholic family, and I agree that your point is well made that a strong executive helps aid unity. Without a doubt, that executive function is weaker among the Orthodox. Please forgive me if I was in any way contentious in my post. I do not mean to be. But it is this very point that separates me from Communion with Rome. My failure to accept the RCC’s assertion that the pope has ” full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered”. (how is this not absolute monarchy?), not to mention the claims of infallibility in “Pastor Aeternus”, makes me guilty of heresy, and therefore excommunicates me. I would like nothing better than to be convinced of Rome’s assertions in this matter, and I appreciate your counterarguments.
        To answer your question, the difference between a presidential/prime ministerial model for the Pope and the current status is several fold: The membership of the synod would be elected independently of the Pope, rather than appointed as the Western bishops are today. The Pope would have veto power over decisions of a synod, but the synod could potentially override such vetoes. In extreme circumstances, the synod could impeach the Pope (as happened in the 5th Ecumenical Council). I am well aware of the numerous arguments from the patristic witness in support of your assertion, and I am well aware of the counterarguments from patristics as well. Both sides make excellent points. Nothing in their witness, though, contradicts the idea of the Roman Pontiff being a president.
        Quite frankly, I believe the Pope’s voice would be heard by a much larger audience if he allowed some changes in the extent of his powers. Giving up his “unhindered, universal power”, would ironically make him a more powerful force in the world by enhancing his credibility to such a great extent.
        Let me, though, ask my question above in light of my original post : How does Peter’s death at Rome, cause his successors to be exclusively those who succeeded him in Rome?

        1. I understand your description but cannot find it comports well with Scripture. The whole model seems more influnced by modern politics that what Jesus sets forth and the scriptures record. You are most troubled by the word “unhindered” but I think you understand that word in a vaccum. For the reality is that Popes have widely consulted and almost never rule without wide consultation, particularly in more modern times when communication is improved. As for your model it seems that without this capacity for “the final word” we are just back to “politics as usual” and, instead of a head, we have a “balance of power model.” Fine perhaps for earthly governments, but even there, the Western world’s decline makes it dubious if all our bickering in our bi and tri cameral set ups is going to win the day through our current crisis. Further, the Eastern Orthodox churches provide a less that inspiring portrait of unity with Patriarchs being hyper territorial and endless squabbles etc.

          The image of the Body comes to mind in regard to the Pope’s headship. My head controls my body. It is a true fact that my body takes feedback from the members but there are times, even when the members of my body indicate fatigue or pain where the head says, do it any way. If everything were overridable or bogged down in bicameral challenges to the Prime Minister I would meet few of my challenges.

          The Church is a body and a body needs a head.

          As for scripture there is rather an overwhelming record and while some of these things may seem trivial, the evidence overall is significant as to Peter’s headship, not merely prime minister status:


          Matt. to Rev. – Peter is mentioned 155 times and the rest of apostles combined are only mentioned 130 times. Peter is also always listed first except in 1 Cor. 3:22 and Gal. 2:9 (which are obvious exceptions to the rule).

          Matt. 10:2; Mark 1:36; 3:16; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:3; 2:37; 5:29 – these are some of many examples where Peter is mentioned first among the apostles.

          Matt. 14:28-29 – only Peter has the faith to walk on water. No other man in Scripture is said to have the faith to walk on water. This faith ultimately did not fail.

          Matt. 16:16, Mark 8:29; John 6:69 – Peter is first among the apostles to confess the divinity of Christ.

          Matt. 16:17 – Peter alone is told he has received divine knowledge by a special revelation from God the Father.

          Matt. 16:18 – Jesus builds the Church only on Peter, the rock, with the other apostles as the foundation and Jesus as the Head.

          Matt. 16:19 – only Peter receives the keys, which represent authority over the Church and facilitate dynastic succession to his authority.

          Matt. 17:24-25 – the tax collector approaches Peter for Jesus’ tax. Peter is the spokesman for Jesus. He is the Vicar of Christ.

          Matt. 17:26-27 – Jesus pays the half-shekel tax with one shekel, for both Jesus and Peter. Peter is Christ’s representative on earth.

          Matt. 18:21 – in the presence of the disciples, Peter asks Jesus about the rule of forgiveness. One of many examples where Peter takes a leadership role among the apostles in understanding Jesus’ teachings.

          Matt. 19:27 – Peter speaks on behalf of the apostles by telling Jesus that they have left everything to follow Him.

          Mark 10:28 – here also, Peter speaks on behalf of the disciples by declaring that they have left everything to follow Him.

          Mark 11:21 – Peter speaks on behalf of the disciples in remembering Jesus’ curse on the fig tree.

          Mark 14:37 – at Gethsemane, Jesus asks Peter, and no one else, why he was asleep. Peter is accountable to Jesus for his actions on behalf of the apostles because he has been appointed by Jesus as their leader.

          Mark 16:7 – Peter is specified by an angel as the leader of the apostles as the angel confirms the resurrection of Christ.

          Luke 5:3 – Jesus teaches from Peter’s boat which is metaphor for the Church. Jesus guides Peter and the Church into all truth.

          Luke 5:4,10 – Jesus instructs Peter to let down the nets for a catch, and the miraculous catch follows. Peter, the Pope, is the “fisher of men.”

          Luke 7:40-50- Jesus addresses Peter regarding the rule of forgiveness and Peter answers on behalf of the disciples. Jesus also singles Peter out and judges his conduct vis-à-vis the conduct of the woman who anointed Him.

          Luke 8:45 – when Jesus asked who touched His garment, it is Peter who answers on behalf of the disciples.

          Luke 8:51; 9:28; 22:8; Acts 1:13; 3:1,3,11; 4:13,19; 8:14 – Peter is always mentioned before John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.

          Luke 9:28;33 – Peter is mentioned first as going to mountain of transfiguration and the only one to speak at the transfiguration.

          Luke 12:41 – Peter seeks clarification of a parable on behalf on the disciples. This is part of Peter’s formation as the chief shepherd of the flock after Jesus ascended into heaven.

          Luke 22:31-32 – Jesus prays for Peter alone, that his faith may not fail, and charges him to strengthen the rest of the apostles.

          Luke 24:12, John 20:4-6 – John arrived at the tomb first but stopped and waited for Peter. Peter then arrived and entered the tomb first.

          Luke 24:34 – the two disciples distinguish Peter even though they both had seen the risen Jesus the previous hour. See Luke 24:33.

          John 6:68 – after the disciples leave, Peter is the first to speak and confess his belief in Christ after the Eucharistic discourse.

          John 13:6-9 – Peter speaks out to the Lord in front of the apostles concerning the washing of feet.

          John 13:36; 21:18 – Jesus predicts Peter’s death. Peter was martyred at Rome in 67 A.D. Several hundred years of papal successors were also martyred.

          John 21:2-3,11 – Peter leads the fishing and his net does not break. The boat (the “barque of Peter”) is a metaphor for the Church.

          John 21:7 – only Peter got out of the boat and ran to the shore to meet Jesus. Peter is the earthly shepherd leading us to God.

          John 21:15 – in front of the apostles, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus “more than these,” which refers to the other apostles. Peter is the head of the apostolic see.

          John 21:15-17 – Jesus charges Peter to “feed my lambs,” “tend my sheep,” “feed my sheep.” Sheep means all people, even the apostles.

          Acts 1:13 – Peter is first when entering upper room after our Lord’s ascension. The first Eucharist and Pentecost were given in this room.

          Acts 1:15 – Peter initiates the selection of a successor to Judas right after Jesus ascended into heaven, and no one questions him. Further, if the Church needed a successor to Judas, wouldn’t it need one to Peter? Of course.

          Acts 2:14 – Peter is first to speak for the apostles after the Holy Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost. Peter is the first to preach the Gospel.

          Acts 2:38 – Peter gives first preaching in the early Church on repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.

          Acts 3:1,3,4 – Peter is mentioned first as going to the Temple to pray.

          Acts 3:6-7 – Peter works the first healing of the apostles.

          Acts 3:12-26, 4:8-12 – Peter teaches the early Church the healing through Jesus and that there is no salvation other than Christ.

          Acts 5:3 – Peter declares the first anathema of Ananias and Sapphira which is ratified by God, and brings about their death. Peter exercises his binding authority.

          Acts 5:15 – Peter’s shadow has healing power. No other apostle is said to have this power.

          Acts 8:14 – Peter is mentioned first in conferring the sacrament of confirmation.

          Acts 8:20-23 – Peter casts judgment on Simon’s quest for gaining authority through the laying on of hands. Peter exercises his binding and loosing authority.

          Acts 9:32-34 – Peter is mentioned first among the apostles and works the healing of Aeneas.

          Acts 9:38-40 – Peter is mentioned first among the apostles and raises Tabitha from the dead.

          Acts 10:5 – Cornelius is told by an angel to call upon Peter. Angels are messengers of God. Peter was granted this divine vision.

          Acts 10:34-48, 11:1-18 – Peter is first to teach about salvation for all (Jews and Gentiles).

          Acts 12:5 – this verse implies that the “whole Church” offered “earnest prayers” for Peter, their leader, during his imprisonment.

          Acts 12:6-11 – Peter is freed from jail by an angel. He is the first object of divine intervention in the early Church.

          Acts 15:7-12 – Peter resolves the first doctrinal issue on circumcision at the Church’s first council at Jerusalem, and no one questions him. After Peter the Papa spoke, all were kept silent.

          Acts 15:12 – only after Peter (the Pope) speaks do Paul and Barnabas (bishops) speak in support of Peter’s definitive teaching.

          Acts 15:13-14 – then James speaks to further acknowledge Peter’s definitive teaching. “Simeon (Peter) has related how God first visited…”

          Rom. 15:20 – Paul says he doesn’t want to build on “another man’s foundation” referring to Peter, who built the Church in Rome.

          1 Cor. 9:5 – Peter is distinguished from the rest of the apostles and brethren of the Lord.

          1 Cor. 15:4-8 – Paul distinguishes Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to Peter from those of the other apostles. Christ appeared “to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

          Gal.1:18 – Paul spends fifteen days with Peter privately before beginning his ministry, even after Christ’s Revelation to Paul.

          1 Peter 5:1 – Peter acts as the chief bishop by “exhorting” all the other bishops and elders of the Church.

          1 Peter 5:13 – Some Protestants argue against the Papacy by trying to prove Peter was never in Rome. First, this argument is irrelevant to whether Jesus instituted the Papacy. Secondly, this verse demonstrates that Peter was in fact in Rome. Peter writes from “Babylon” which was a code name for Rome during these days of persecution. See, for example, Rev. 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2,10,21, which show that “Babylon” meant Rome. Rome was the “great city” of the New Testament period. Because Rome during this age was considered the center of the world, the Lord wanted His Church to be established in Rome.

          2 Peter 1:14 – Peter writes about Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s death, embracing the eventual martyrdom that he would suffer.

          2 Peter 3:16 – Peter is making a judgment on the proper interpretation of Paul’s letters. Peter is the chief shepherd of the flock.

          Matt. 23:11; Mark 9:35; 10:44 – yet Peter, as the first, humbled himself to be the last and servant of all servants.

          1. Thanks again. But Peter’s role as leader of the Apostles (I agree!) is not the issue when it comes to whether or not the Bishop of Rome is the earthly king of the Earthly Chuch. Peter founded many local churches (Rome technically not among them , but his leadership upon his arrival is not disputed) and left numerous successors to lead them. The question is not whether Peter had any type of “primacy” over say St Bartholemew, but whether St Linus had primacy over St Mark or St James, or whether even the great St Clement would have any superiority over the still living St John the Evangeslist.
            I have searched for a satisfactory answer to this question for nearly a decade now.
            Thank you for your patience with me.

  9. Msgr. Pope,

    It is not any less important to stress in addition to the following statement “we assent to the Pope because, by faith, we believe he is inspired by God,” that this is only under certain conditions. The Catholic Church does not teach that the Pope is inspired by God in all of his acts, rather only under very specific and manifestly obvious condition specified by the First Vatican Council. Outside of those conditions, the Pope is obliged to follow meticulously the examples of his predecessors. If he deviates from this, we must at least regard him with suspicion and if necessary resist him. That is not to say that Catholics should make up their own minds about matters of Faith because that is manifestly Protestant. Rather, in the face of heretical or ambiguous teaching from the Pope or manifest departure from Tradition, we must put our trust in what preceding Popes have unanimously taught.
    I know this sounds like heresy to the modern catholic, but I have innumerable Doctors, Fathers, theologians, saints and Popes to back up this concept. If you would like more specifics just ask.

    St. Augustine
    St. Athanasius
    St Gregory
    St Cyprian
    St. Robert Bellarmine
    St. Vincent of Lerins

    Juan Cardinal De Torquemada
    Sylvester Prieras
    Tommaso Cardinal de Vio Gaetani Cajetan
    Francisco Suarez
    Fr. Francisco de Victoria
    Cornelius a Lapide

    Pope Innocent III
    Pope Adrian VI
    Venerable Pope Pius IX
    Pope Adrian II

    1. Fair enough. But I have two problems with your problem. The first is personal. I think you know that my assertion would include your addition. I am not writing a theological treatise here, it is ahomily. And at some point we have to hold other things equal and allow presumptions to be implicit. I could even take your addition and call it incomplete for you “failed” to mention ALL the very specific conditions under which the Pope teaches authoritatively and commands our faith. And I could add to the list of Fathers for you FAILED to mention a few. But of course your are only writing a comment, not a treatise. So my point is that some shorthand needs to be allowed, my posts are already too long.

      My second problem with your reply is that you seem to imply that resisting a pope who utters “heretical or ambiguous” would be a frequent posture that Catholics might have to have recourse to. I am trying to think of an incident when a Pope has uttered heretical things. Some Protestants like argue about certain things said by certain popes, but I never find their complaints to be substantiative. I wonder what examples you have in mind? I can possibly surmise you are a SPXer or even a sedevacantist? What exactly are getting at? Even regarding non-infallible teachings of the Pope, Catholics are to give religious submission.

      1. Msgr,
        Thank you for your clarification about religious submission regarding “non-infallible” teaching. Pastor Aeternus (and its commentary the “Relatio” (sp?)) paints a very broad landscape of infallible teachings, possible including every Papal Bull and beyond. Has the Vatican ever defined what is infallible beyond the 2 famous ex cathedra statements regarding Mary? Many scholars have pointed to earlier statements as surely being infallible, but then “Lumen Gentium” is published contradicting (nullifying?) “Unam Sanctam”. Your statement, I guess, implies that any such list is unnecessary.

  10. I used to attend a sedevacantist chapel and am now, thanks be to God, back in Holy Mother Church. No truer statment than this: If there is no pope, everyone is pope!

    1. It does not follow that if there is no Pope at this moment that everyone is Pope. Christ never promised that there would be a pope at each and every moment. There is no limit to the length of an interregnum. It has even happened in the past that for decades no one knew for sure who the pope was. That did not mean that everyone was pope, rather that the catholics relied on the popes of the past. The precise statement would be: If there is no such thing as a pope, then everyone is pope.
      Assuming by the term “sedevacantist” you mean one who holds that the current pope does not validly hold the office, that position is NOT schismatic nor does it necessarily put one outside of the church. While I do not hold that it is a sound position, I understand those who do hold it because St. Robert Bellarmine among others, supports the position as well as the Catholic Encyclopedia (which is published for all to see by that bastion of catholic thought which is CNA / ACIPrensa).

      1. Did you read what I wrote? You’re “preaching” to the choir. All you have written is nothing but learned responses. Think for yourself. A three year interregnum due to being unable to elect a pope is vastly different from a supposed fifty-three year interregnum caused by men whose heretical views made them ineligible for the papacy (courtesy of “CUM EX APOSTOLATUS OFFICIO”). And having three popes at the same time is one of the dumbest rationalizations that sedes have conjured up to support their position. Anyone with a brain can see it doesn’t support one thing that the sedevacantists have done.

        St. Robert Bellarmine speculated as to what possibly might happen and came up with five possibilities. He didn’t “support” any one; he merely wrote that his fifth opinion was the “most probable”. No one was more loyal to the papacy than St. Robert during a time when people had more than enough reasons to walk away from the Church, which is why the “Reformation” was such a success. The Church was a disaster at the time.

        I don’t mean to sound glib, but your response just proves the point: ” If there is no pope, everyone is pope!”

        1. Veronica I am not sure to whom your repsonse is directed. But mine was directed to Peter Chabot and I think it is to him that you are responding. Just want to clarify.

  11. Monsignor, it wasn’t directed to you. I thought I hit the “reply” under Peter Chabot’s post. My post is in response to his August 22nd 4:01 post.

    Sorry for the confusion.

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