The Papacy as Instituted by Jesus Christ

It is a matter of faith that the blessed apostle Peter 'was constituted by Christ the Lord as the prince of all the apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant' and 'that he received immediately and directly from Jesus Christ our Lord not only a primacy of honor but a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction.'[22] The Church affirms that this is witnessed to by 'the testimony of the gospel'[23] and is the 'very clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures.'[24]

The scriptural texts brought forward by the Council are the two following very well-known passages: a) this first is known as the 'text of the promise': Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. And now I say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven_ (Matthew 16:16-18); b) the second is known as the 'fulfillment text': Feed my lambs, feed my sheep (John 21:15ff).

An analysis of other numerous texts of the New Testament would show what precisely was the will of Christ regarding the humble fisherman from Galilee, how Peter afterwards exercised his primacy, and how conscious the other apostles and the first Christians were that Simon was at the head of the mission which Christ had entrusted to them all.[25]

The Church's teaching about the authority and ministry of the Pope within the Church places, also by the express will of Christ, that authority and ministry at the very center of her hierarchical structure. The universal authority of the Roman Pontiff, witnessed to throughout the history of Christianity and proposed as a dogma of faith by the Council of Florence in 1439,[19] was given a detailed dogmatic explanation by Vatican Council I in 1870 in its dogmatic constitution on the Church of Christ (Pastor aeternus). This document, in turn, was taken up and confirmed by Vatican Council II in 1964.

It is interesting to note that, before describing the content of this power and authority, Vatican I wished to underline its purpose and meaning in the Church according to the will of Christ. This authority exists so that 'the episcopate might be one and undivided and that the whole multitude of believers might be preserved in unity of faith and communion by means of a well-organized priesthood.'[20] 'In order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided he (Christ) put Peter at the head of the other apostles, and in him set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and communion.'[21]

Within this basic framework the Church has given her teaching on the primatial authority of the Roman Pontiff in three well defined points: 1. the institution of the primacy in the person of Peter the apostle, 2. the perpetuity of the primacy through the principle of succession, 3. the nature of this primatial power.


Pope Francis I

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013, becoming Pope Francis. He is the first pope from the Americas.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis on March 13, 2013, when he was named the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Bergoglio, the first pope from the Americas, took his papal title after St. Francis of Assisi of Italy. Prior to his election as pope, Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 to 2013 (succeeding Antonio Quarracino), as cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church of Argentina from 2001 to 2013, and as president of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina from 2005 to 2011. Pope Francis made his first international visit in July 2013, traveling to Brazil. In December 2013, Pope Francis was also named Person of the Year by Time magazine. To date, his tenure has been characterized by humility and outspoken support of the world's poor and marginalized people, and he has been involved actively in areas of political diplomacy and environmental advocacy. 


Pope Bendeict XVI Emeritus

Benedict XVI served as pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013.

Pope Benedict XVI was born Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany, the youngest of three children. His father was a policeman and his mother a hotel cook (before she married). His family moved frequently among villages in rural Bavaria, a deeply Roman Catholic region in Germany, as the Nazis strengthened their stranglehold on Germany in the 1930s. His father was a determined anti-Nazi, Ratzinger wrote. "Unemployment was rife," he wrote in his memoir, Milestones. "War reparations (from World War I) weighed heavily on the German economy. Battles among the political parties set people against one another."

Ratzinger was elevated to the papacy on April 19, 2005, upon the death of Pope John Paul II, and celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass five days later. Known for his rigid views on Catholicism, he has sought a more inclusive image as pope.

In 2008, Benedict made his first visit as pope to the United States, where he spoke out against clerical sexual abuse and delivered an address at the United Nations. That same year, to foster relations and understanding between religions, Benedict addressed the first Catholic-Muslim Forum, a three-day conference of Catholic theologians and Islamic scholars.

In 2010, allegations of sexual and physical abuse by parish priests and in parochial schools—particularly in Germany, Ireland and the United States—brought Benedict, and his role in the cases in Germany in particular, under close media scrutiny. In a pastoral letter, Benedict rebuked the bishops of the Irish church for a failure of leadership. The Vatican also denounced as the charge that as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Benedict had been responsible for the Vatican's policy of covering up cases of sexual abuse, declaring that his handling of the cases showed “wisdom and firmness.”

Rome Reports

Daily activities of the Pope, and Catholic World News