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William H. Sanford wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Why does Catholic doctrine teach that Peter was the first Pope?


  { Why does Catholic doctrine teach that Peter was the first Pope? }

Mike replied:

Hi, William —

Thanks for the question.

Because Jesus said so:

Matthew 16:13-19

13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 17 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. 18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build MY church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19 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."

Isaiah, the prophet, foretold this:

15 Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 16 What have you to do here and whom have you here, that you have hewn here a tomb for yourself, you who hew a tomb on the height, and carve a habitation for yourself in the rock? 17 Behold, the LORD will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you, 18 and whirl you round and round, and throw you like a ball into a wide land; there you shall die, and there shall be your splendid chariots, you shame of your master's house. 19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23 And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house. 24 And they will hang on him the whole weight of his father's house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. 25 In that day, says the LORD of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a sure place will give way; and it will be cut down and fall, and the burden that was upon it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken."

(Isaiah 22:15-25)

It's important to remember that the role of the Pope is not one of domination, but one of service.

All huge companies have organizational charts with blocks that represent the people who work at various levels of responsibility.  At the top, is one person, the CEO, the Chief Executive Office; the President of the company, and at that bottom are non-supervisory workers who perform the required work to make the company run and make a profit.

For this reason, most corporate organizational charts look like triangles, with the one president at the top and numerous non-supervisory workers at the bottom.

There is a similar organizational structure within the Catholic Church, with one major difference:

You have to turn the triangle-view of the organizational chart up-side down!

Starting at the bottom of this new organizational chart and moving to the top, with the first bullet representing the highest level of responsibility:

  • The Pope serves the cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons and the faithful.
  • The Cardinals serve the bishops, priests, deacons and the faithful.
  • The bishops serve the priests, deacons and the faithful, and at the top level:
  • The priest, especially the pastors, serve: other priests, deacons and the faithful.

It's also important to remember that the role of the Pope is NOT to create new teachings.

No, it is to protect and safeguard the Teachings Jesus left the Church before his Ascension
and to elaborate on current day issues that deal with morality or (issues of faith and morals).

I hope this answers your question.

Mike Humphrey

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
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