El Papado

Who is the pope, why is he the leader of Christ’s Church on earth, and from where does his authority derive?
Saint Peter Receives the Key from Christ by Lorenzo VenezianoOur current pope, Pope Benedict XVI, like every pope before him, is a direct successor of the first pope, Saint Peter, who was the first Bishop of Rome.

Saint Peter received his authority to lead the Church directly from Jesus.

Among his many interactions with Jesus, Peter is remembered for his exchange with Christ on the road to Caesarea Philippi, recorded in the Evangelio de Mateo (Capítulo 16).

When Jesus asked the Disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”, Peter answered for them, replying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:15-16). Sucesivamente, Jesús le dijo:, “Blessed are you, Simón, hijo de Jonás! Para la carne y la sangre no ha revelado esto, sino mi Padre que está en los cielos” (17).

The question of Jesusidentity was definitively answered for His followers by Peter with divine assistance. Jesus went on to say,

“Y te digo, tú eres Pedro, y sobre esta piedra edificaré mi iglesia, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kindgom of heaven, y lo que ates en la tierra quedará atado en los cielos, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (18-19).

This passage provides the main Biblical proof for Peter’s primacy among the Apostles. Today’s Catholic bishops are the spiritual descendants of the Apostles. The Bishop of Rome (o el Papa) is the successor of Peter. He retains Peter’s primacy among the bishops.

The name “Peter” comes from the Aramaic word Kepha (o Cephas), meaningRock.Jesus chose to give the Apostle Simon this new name at Caesarea Philippi for symbolic reasons. The distinctive feature of the area is a large outcropping of rock, upon which at that time the ruins of a pagan temple stood. It was here that Jesus chose to proclaim His plans to build a new Church on Peter that would not succumb to the passage of time.

Por supuesto, this passage in no way undermines our belief in Christ as the true Foundation of the Church (ver Primera Carta a los Corintios 3:11). Jesus did not mean to imply Peter would somehow replace Him as the Rock of the Church, but that he would merely represent Him as such. As Saint Francis de Sales put it,

Although [Peter] was a rock, yet he was not el rock; for Christ is truly the immovable rock, but Peter on account of the rock. Christ indeed gives his own prerogatives to others, yet he gives them not losing them himself, he holds them nonetheless. He is a rock, and he made a rock; what is his, he communicates to his servants (Controversies).

Painting of Saint Peter by Francesco del CossaIt is the same with Jesuspromise to give Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Christ is the King of Heaven, and the keys belong to Him alone (Book of Revelations, 3:7).

In entrusting the keys to Peter, Jesus was referring back to the Davidic custom by which the king, upon leaving the city, would appoint his royal steward overseer of the kingdom in his absence, lending him the keys to its gates (ver Isaías 22:22). En Mateo 16:19, Christ the King appoints His steward, Peter, to oversee the Church, His kingdom on earth, in His absence.

The termsbind” y “loosein the passage above indicate that the authority given to Peter to declare certain things permissible or forbidden to the earthly faithful. Peter’s decisions on these matters, por otra parte, shall be confirmed in heaven. If God is going to confirm the decisions of Peter, a sinner, then obviously Peter must be given a special grace to prevent him from issuing commands contrary to the will of God. This preventive grace is infallibility.

The Church teaches that the Pope, as Peter’s successor, retains this infallibility.

This is not a claim that the Pope is without sin—infallibility has nothing to do with conduct, De hecho—rather it is the belief that when teaching definitively on a matter of faith and morals he will be guarded by the Holy Spirit against teaching error.

Infallibility does not mean everything the Pope says or writes is without error, but only those things said ex cathedra (latín, “from the chair”). Ex cathedra refers to the Chair of Peter, eso es, to the seat of apostolic authority. The concept of a primary seat of authority comes from the Old Testament, in which Moses sat in judgment of the people, settling their religious disputes (ver Libro del Éxodo 18:13).

Moisés’ autoridad, también, was handed down through a line of successors. The Seat of Moses remained active until the time of Christ, as the Jesus, Él mismo, dicho, “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Mosesseat; Así que la práctica y observar todo lo que le dicen, pero no lo que hacen; para que predican, but do not practice” (Mateo 23:1-3). Peter and the Popes fulfill a similar role in the New Covenant, serving as Christ’s earthly representative through whom God speaks to the people to resolve religious disputes and maintain unity among the faithful.

This special role is seen in the Biblical account of Peter’s actions at the Council of Jerusalem, at which the Apostles are called to decide whether or not adherence to the Mosaic Law is required for salvation. It is Peter who ends the dispute, teaching the assembly on doctrine (ver Hechos de los Apóstoles, 15:7). His successors have maintained this role in the Church throughout the ages.

Interestingly, those who have rejected the Pope’s role have suffered doctrinal confusion and ongoing (and accelerating) division, which is evidenced by the explosion of non-Catholic, Christian sects.

Early Christian Historical References to the Papacy:

Pope Saint Clement I, the fourth Bishop of Rome, Carta a los Corintios, circa AD 96:

Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret. … If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him (es decir, Dios) a través de nosotros (es decir, la Iglesia de Roma), let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger. … You will afford us joy and gladness if, being obedient to the things which we have written through the Holy Spirit, you will root out the wicked passion of jealousy, in accord with the plea for peace and concord which we have made in this letter (58, 59, 63).

Saint Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch, Carta a los Romanos, do. A.D. 107:

Ignacio, también llamado Teóforo, a la Iglesia que ha encontrado misericordia en la grandeza del Altísimo Padre y en Jesucristo, Su único Hijo; a la amada Iglesia e iluminado después de que el amor de Jesucristo, Nuestro Dios, por la voluntad del que ha querido todo lo cual es; to the Church also which olds the presidency, en la ubicación del país de los romanos, digno de Dios, digno de honor, digna de la bendición, digno de alabanza, digno de éxito, digno de la santificación, y, porque se mantiene la presidencia en el amor, named after Christ and after the Father. … You have envied no one, pero otros han enseñado. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force (Dirección, 3).

Saint Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons, contra las Herejías, do. A.D. 185:

But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the Churches, hemos de confundir a todos aquellos que, de cualquier manera, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, al señalar aquí la sucesión de los obispos de la mayor y más antigua Iglesia de todos conocidas, fundada y organizada en Roma por los dos más gloriosos Apóstoles, Pedro y Pablo, esa Iglesia que tiene la tradición y la fe que ha llegado hasta nosotros después de haber sido anunciado a los hombres por los Apóstoles. Porque con esta Iglesia, debido a su origen superiores, todas las Iglesias deben estar de acuerdo, eso es, todos los fieles en todo el mundo; y es en ella que los fieles de todo el mundo han mantenido la tradición apostólica. ...

The blessed Apostles, habiendo fundado y construido por la Iglesia, hicieron entrega de la oficina del episcopado a Lino. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the Epistle to Timothy (4:21). A lo sucedió Anacleto; y después de él, en el tercer lugar de los Apóstoles, Clemente fue elegido para el episcopado. Había visto a los santos apóstoles y estaba familiarizado con ellos. Podría decirse que todavía escucha los ecos de la predicación de los Apóstoles, y tenían sus tradiciones ante sus ojos. Y no sólo él, porque había muchos que aún permanecen que habían sido instruidos por los Apóstoles.

In the time of Clement, gran disensión haber surgido entre los hermanos en Corinto, la Iglesia de Roma envió una carta muy fuerte a los Corintios, exhortándoles a que la paz y renovar su fe. ... A esta Clemente, Evaristus tuvo éxito; y Alexander logró Evaristus. Entonces, sexto después de los Apóstoles, Sixto fue nombrado; despues de el, Telésforo, quien también fue martirizado gloriosamente. A continuación, Higinio; despues de el, Pío; y después de él, anicetus. Soter logró Aniceto, y ahora, en el lugar duodécimo después de los Apóstoles, el lote del episcopado ha caído a Eléuteros. En este orden, y por la enseñanza de los Apóstoles dictada en la Iglesia, la predicación de la verdad ha llegado hasta nosotros. In the time of Clement, gran disensión haber surgido entre los hermanos en Corinto, la Iglesia de Roma envió una carta muy fuerte a los Corintios, exhortándoles a que la paz y renovar su fe. ... A esta Clemente, Evaristus tuvo éxito; y Alexander logró Evaristus. Entonces, sexto después de los Apóstoles, Sixto fue nombrado; despues de el, Telésforo, quien también fue martirizado gloriosamente. A continuación, Higinio; despues de el, Pío; y después de él, anicetus. Soter logró Aniceto, y ahora, en el lugar duodécimo después de los Apóstoles, el lote del episcopado ha caído a Eléuteros. En este orden, y por la enseñanza de los Apóstoles dictada en la Iglesia, la predicación de la verdad ha llegado hasta nosotros (3:3:2-3)