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The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on the Primacy of Peter.


  • The Catechism Today
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This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:


The episcopal college and its head, the Pope


880 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." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 19; cf. Luke 6:13; John 21:15-17) Just as "by the Lord's institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 22; cf. Code of Canon Law can. 330)


881 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. (cf. Matthew 16:18-19; John 21:15-17) "The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 22 § 2) 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.


882 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." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 23) "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." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 22; cf. Christus Dominus 2,9)


883 "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." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 22; cf. Code of Canon Law can 336)


884 "The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council." (Code of Canon Law can. 337 § 1) But "there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 22)


885 "This college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the People of God; and of the unity of the flock of Christ, in so far as it is assembled under one head." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 22)


In Brief

936 The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church to him. The bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is "head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth." (Code of Canon Law, canon 331)


937 The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, "supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls". (Vatican II, Christus Dominus 2)


938 The Bishops, established by the Holy Spirit, succeed the apostles. They are "the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches". (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 23)


939 Helped by the priests, their co-workers, and by the deacons, the bishops have the duty of authentically teaching the faith, celebrating divine worship, above all the Eucharist, and guiding their Churches as true pastors. Their responsibility also includes concern for all the Churches, with and under the Pope.


  1. St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107)
    Pope St. Clement I of Rome, (A.D. 60-97)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    Letter of Clement to James, (A.D. 221)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    Macarius of Egypt, (A.D. c.300-391)
    St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379)
    St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407)
    Prudentius, (A.D. 348-c.413)
    St. Maximus, (unknown-A.D.423)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. John Cassian, (A.D. c.360 - 433)
    Paulus Orosius, (A.D. c.375-c.418)
    Zacchaeus, (unknown - A.D. c.430)
    Sedulius, (Flourish in A.D. 435)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    St. Proclus, (unknown-A.D. 447)
    Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458)
    St. Peter Chrysologus, (A.D. 406 - 450)
    St. Basil of Seleucia, (unknown-A.D. 460)
    St. Avitus, (Alcimus Ecdicius), (A.D. c.470-525)
St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107), Syrian; ecclesiastical writer, bishop, martyr. A disciple of St. John, the Apostle; he was bishop of Antioch, in which see he succeeded St. Peter, or, as others think, Evodius. He is supposed to have governed that church for about forty years. He suffered martyrdom at Rome in the year 107.

You [the See of Rome] have envied no one, but others have you taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force.

Epistle to the Romans 3:1 [A.D. 110]

Pope St. Clement I of Rome, (A.D. 60-97), Roman; Pope from A.D. 88-97; martyr. That St. Clement was honored by the friendship of the great Apostle, St. Peter, is not doubted. There are good reasons to believe that he was designated by that Apostle as his successor in the see of Rome. The authenticity and genuineness of St. Clement's First Epistle to the Corinthians are acknowledged. We learn from Eusebius and from other writers, that it was publicly read in many churches. This second epistle is the oldest extant Christian homily we have attributed to him, (A.D. 150).

Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret. . . . If anyone disobeys the things which have been said by him [Jesus] through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in no small danger. We, however, shall be innocent of this sin and will pray with entreaty and supplication that the Creator of all may keep unharmed the number of his elect.

Letter to the Corinthians 58:2, 59:1 [A.D. 95]

St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

[T]he blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matthew 17:27], quickly grasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? "Behold, we have left all and have followed you" [Matthew 19:2 7, Mark 10:28]

Who is the Rich Man That is Saved? 21:3-5 [A.D. 200]

Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

[T]he Lord said to Peter, "On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in Heaven" [Matthew 16:18-19]. ... Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church; and whatever you shall have bound or you shall have loosed, not what they shall have bound or they shall have loosed.

Modesty 21:9-10 [A.D. 220]

Letter of Clement to James

Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter, the first-fruits of our Lord, the first of the apostles; to whom first the Father revealed the Son; whom the Christ, with good reason, blessed; the called, and elect.

Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221]

Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

"On that same day the disciples came to Jesus saying: Who is the greater in the kingdom of Heaven ?" (Matthew 18) . . . We must not let the design of the evangelist, in the words on that same day, pass by unexamined. . . . Jesus, therefore, had come, together with His disciples, "to Capharnaum; there they who received the didrachma came to Peter", and asked of him: "Does not your master pay the didrachma?" Then when Peter had answered them, and said "Yes"; Jesus having assigned a reason for paying the tribute-money, sends Peter to draw out with the hook a fish, in the mouth of which He declares a stater would be found, to be given for Himself and Peter. It seems, therefore, to me, that they, — considering this to be the greatest honor to Peter on the part of Jesus, as judging him greater than the rest of the disciples, — wished to ascertain clearly that which they fancied; and they accordingly inquired, in order to learn from Jesus, whether, as they suspected, He had separated Peter as greater than they; and they, at the same time, hoped to know the cause of Peter's having been preferred before the rest."

T. iii. Comment, in Matt. Tom. xiii. n. 14. pp. 588-9.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 5-6

"Peter was, by the Lord, called a rock, since to him is said. "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church."

T. iii. Comm. in Matthew n. 139, p. 927 (Alib. Tr. 35).
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 7

"Peter upon whom is built Christ's Church, against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail, has left behind him but one epistle, that is universally acknowledged."

T iv. In Joan. Tom. 5, p. 95. (Ex. Euseb. H. E. l. vi. c. 25.)
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 7

"When the chief authority as regards the feeding of the sheep was delivered to Peter; and on him, as on the earth, the Church was founded; of no other virtue was the confession required, than that of love."

T. iv. lib. 5, in Ep. ad Rom. n. 10, p. 568.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 7-8

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

"Peter on whom the Church had been built by the Lord Himself, one speaking for all, and replying with the voice of the Church, says, "Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of everlasting life and we have come to believe."

Ep. lv. ad Cornel, p. 178.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 8

With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the Chair of Peter and to the principal church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source".

Epistle to Cornelius [Bishop of Rome] 59:14 [A.D. 252]

The Lord says to Peter: "I say to you," he says, "that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church" . . . On him he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?

The Unity of the Catholic Church 4 [A.D. 251]

"Custom is not to prescribe, but reason to conquer. For not even did Peter, whom the Lord chose the first, and upon whom He built His Church, when Paul afterwards disputed with him respecting circumcision, claim anything to himself insolently, or assume anything arrogantly, so as to say that he held the primacy, and that obedience ought rather to be paid to him by those who were novices and had come after him. Nor did he despise Paul because he had been originally a persecutor of the Church, but he admitted the counsel of truth, and readily assented to the legitimate reasons (or method) which Paul vindicated, giving, to wit, to us an example of unanimity and patience, that we may not with pertinacity love what is our own, but rather the things which are at times usefully and beneficially suggested by our brethren and colleagues, to account them, if they be true and lawful, as our own."

Ep. lxxi. ad Quintam, p. 273.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 8-9

Macarius of Egypt, (A.D. c.300-391), also known as Macarius the Elder and the Lamp of the Desert was an Egyptian Christian monk, hermit and priest. contemporary with St. Athanasius, and the friend of the great St. Anthony, died at the advanced age of ninety, after passing sixty years in the desert.

"For of old Moses and Aaron, when this priesthood was theirs, suffered much; and Caiphas, when he had their chair, persecuted and condemned the Lord. . . . Afterwards Moses was succeeded by Peter, who had committed to his hands the new Church of Christ, and the true priesthood."

Hom. xxvi. n. 23, Galland, t. vii. p. 101.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 22

St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378), Syrian; born in Nisebis, deacon, hymnist, poet. His works were even during his own lifetime almost all translated into Greek, and were, as St. Jerome informs us, held in such high estimation, as to be read in some churches after the Holy Scriptures. We have his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

"Oh! the ineffable power that has vouchsafed to dwell within us by means of the imposition of the sacred hands of the priests. . . . Peter, who was called Cephas, he who was captured on the sea shore, and who received a testimony from the great Pastor, that upon this rock I will build my Church, by means of the priesthood received also the keys of Heaven, as worthy (of them)."

T. iii. Gr. De Sacerd. p. 3.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 20

St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

Having explained from St. Matthew 16. how St. Peter was the first to proclaim Christ the Son of the living God, he continues,

"And in sooth Peter's confession obtained a worthy recompense. Blessed is he that is praised as having both remarked and seen beyond the ken of human eyes, not regarding what was of flesh and blood, but, by the revelation of the heavenly Father, beholding the Son of God, and accounted worthy to be the first to acknowledge what was in the Christ of God. Oh, in thy designation by a new name, happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of the building up of that which was to scatter the infernal laws, and the gates of Hell, and all the bars of death! O blessed keeper of the gate of Heaven, to whose disposal are delivered the keys of the entrance into eternity; whose judgment on earth is an authority prejudged in Heaven, so that the things that are either loosed or bound on earth, acquire in Heaven too a like state of settlement."

Comm. in Matth. c. xvi. n. 7, pp. 749-50.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 15

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, both the chief of the apostles and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, in the name of Christ healed Aeneas the paralytic at Lydda, which is now called Diospolis. [Acts 9;3 2-3 4]

Catechetical Lectures 17;27 [A.D. 350]

"Our Lord Jesus Christ then became man, but by the many He was not known. But wishing to teach that which was not known, having assembled the disciples, He asked, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man, am?" And all being silent (for it was beyond man to learn) Peter, the foremost of the Apostles, and chief herald of the Church, not using language of his own finding, nor persuaded by human reasoning, but having his mind enlightened from the Father, says to Him, "Thou art the Christ", nor simply that, but, "the Son of the living God." And a blessing follows the speech. . . . "Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jonas ..."

Catech. xi. n. 3, jp. 150.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 17

St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379), Cappadocian; bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 369, theologian, monk. Studied in Palestine, Constantinople, and Athens. Many of the subsequent years of his life were spent in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. His character and works have gained for him the surname of "the great".

"When we hear the name of Peter, that name does not cause our minds to dwell on his substance, but we figure to our minds the properties that are connected with him. For we at once, on hearing that name, think of the son of him that came from Bethsaida, Andrew's brother; him that was called from amongst fishermen unto the ministry of the Apostleship; him who on account of the pre-eminence of his faith received upon himself the building of the Church."

T. i. P. i. I. ii. Adv. Eunom. n. 4, p. 340.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 22

St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384), bishop of Milevis, Numidia, in Africa; from Augustine's writings we can assume Optatus was a convert; he is best known for his opposition to the heresy of Donatism.

"Blessed Peter, to whom, after his denial, it were enough if he obtained pardon, merited both to be preferred before all the Apostles, and he alone received of the kingdom of Heaven the keys to be communicated to the others, . . . The head of the Apostles could so have governed himself as not to incur a crime of which he would have to repent."

De Schis. l. vii. n. 3.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 18

St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403), Palestinian; bishop, abbot, scholar.

"The Lord and His Church receive the penitent; even as Manasses, the son of Ezechias, was converted and received by the Lord. And the blessed Peter, who for awhile denied the Lord, Peter who was the chiefest of the Apostles, he who became unto us truly a firm rock upon which is based the Lord's faith, upon which (rock) the Church is in every way built; first, in that he confessed that Christ was the Son of the living God, and heard that upon this rock of firm faith I will build my Church. . . . Further, he then also became a firm rock of the building, and foundation of the house of God, in that having denied Christ, and being again converted, being both found of the Lord, and found worthy to hear, "Feed my sheep and feed my lambs."

Adv. Hæres. (59) p. 500.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 24-25

St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394), bishop of Nyssa in A.D. 371, an erudite theologian who made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed. Gregory's philosophical writings were influenced by Origen. He was the brother of the great St. Basil.

"The memory of Peter, the head of the Apostles, is celebrated; and magnified indeed with him are the other members of the Church; but (upon him) is the Church of God firmly established. For he is, agreeably to the gift conferred upon him by the Lord, that unbroken and most firm rock upon which the Lord built His Church."

Alt. or. De S. Steph. Galland. t. vi. p. 600.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 21

St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

[Christ] made answer: "You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church . . ."
Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church? [Matthew 16:18]

The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]

"It is that same Peter to whom He said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." Therefore, where Peter is, there is the Church; where the Church is, there death is not, but life eternal."

T. 1, In Ps. xl. n. 30, pp. 879-80.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 25-26

"This, then, is that Peter who answers for the rest, yea as above the rest, and therefore is he called the foundation, because he knows how not only to keep his own, but also what is common (to all). . . Faith, therefore, is the foundation of the Church, for not of Peter's flesh, but of his faith was it said that "The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it"; but that confession vanquished Hell. And this confession has shut out more than one heresy; for whereas the Church, like a good ship, is often buffeted by many a wave, the foundation of the Church ought to have strength to withstand every heresy."

T. ii. De Incarn. c. iv. n. 30, 32; et c. v. n. 1, pp. 710-11.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 29

"In fine, Peter, after having been tempted by the devil, is set over the Church. The Lord, therefore, foreshowed (referring to St. Luke 22:31-32) what that was, that He afterwards chose him as the pastor of the Lord's flock. For to him He said, "But thou when converted confirm thy brethren."

T. 1, In Ps. xliii. n. 40, p. 904.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 26

"Thou, O Lord, didst say to Peter when he excused himself from Thy washing his feet, "If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me."

What fellowship then can these men (Novatians) have with Thee; men who receive not the keys of the kingdom, and who deny that they ought to forgive sins? Which, indeed, is rightly acknowledged on their parts; for they have not Peter's inheritance who have not Peter's chair, which, with impious disunion, they rend asunder; but they act wickedly in that they deny that even in the Church, sins can be pardoned; whereas to Peter it was said, "To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, shall be bound upon Heaven and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven."

T. ii. De Paen. l. v. c. vi. n. 33, p. 399.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 27-28

St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

Asserting that St. John the Apostle was the best beloved disciple, he says: "But, you say that the Church is built upon Peter, though, in another place, the same thing is done upon all the Apostles, and all receive "the keys of the kingdom of Heaven", and the strength of the Church is settled equally upon them; yet for this reason one is chosen out of the twelve, that a head being appointed, the occasion of schism might be removed.' But why was not John, the virgin, chosen? Deference was paid to age, seeing that Peter was older; lest one yet a youth, and almost a boy, should be set above men of advanced age."

T. ii. adv. Jovin. n. 26, col. 279.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 30

St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407), Syrian; archbishop, Doctor of the Church. Born at Antioch in 344; he was ordained priest in A.D. 383, and raised to the see of Constantinople in the year A.D. 398. His eloquence gained him the title of Chrysostom, or the mouth of gold. His expositions of Scripture, especially the Epistles of St. Paul, are very valuable. This illustrious prelate died on his road to exile, in A.D. 407.

"Peter himself the chief of the Apostles, the first in the Church, the friend of Christ, who received a revelation not from man, but from the Father, as the Lord bears witness to him, saying, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in Heaven"; this very Peter,— and when I name Peter, I name that unbroken rock, that firm foundation, the great Apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called and the first who obeyed,— he was guilty of a deed not slight, but exceedingly great, even the denying of the Lord. I say this not in accusation of that great man, but as giving thee a ground for penitence."

T. ii. Hom. iii. de Paenit. n. 4, p. 353.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 31

Prudentius, (Aurelius Prudentius Clemens), (A.D. 348-c.413), Roman Christian poet, born in the Roman province of Tarraconensis, now Northern Spain. He probably died in Spain, as well. The hymn Salvete, flores Martyrum, is by this writer.

"And already have we most assured pledges of this hope; for here already reign two princes of the Apostles; one the Apostle of the Gentiles, the other, holding the first chair, flings open the portals of eternity, that have been entrusted to him."

Hymn. ii. in Honor. S. Laur. v. 457-64, Galland, t. viii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 39

St. Maximus, (unknown-A.D.423), Italian; bishop of Turin and theological writer, he assisted at the Council of Milan in 451, and that of Rome in 465. Maximus is believed to have been a native of Rhaetia.

"Peter received a greater grace than that which he had lost; for as a good shepherd he received the flock to keep, that so he who previously had shown himself so weak, might become a support to all men; and he who had trembled when tried by a question, might, by the firmness of his faith, establish the rest. In fine, on account of the solidity of his devotedness (to Christ), he is called the rock of the churches, as the Lord declares, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." For he is called a rock, because he was the first to lay the foundations of the faith amongst the nations, and because, like a universal rock, he binds together (or, encloses) the compacted mass of the whole structure of Christianity. Peter, therefore, is called a rock on account of his devotedness; while the Lord is called a rock on account of His power, as Paul says, "But they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ."

Hom,, iv. De Petro, t. vi. Bib. Maxim. SS. PP. p. 24.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 42-43

"Of how great merit before his God was Peter, that, after rowing his little boat, there should be consigned to him the helms of the whole Church."

Hom. iii. De Eod. Fest. ib. p. 35.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 43

"Both these Apostles (Peter and Paul) received keys from the Lord; the latter of knowledge, the former of power; Peter dispenses the riches of immortality, Paul bestows the treasures of knowledge. . . . They, therefore, tower above all the rest of the Apostles, and excel them by a kind of special prerogative. But which of the two is to be preferred before the other is uncertain; for I think them equal in merits, for they are equal in their passion, and equally devoted to the faith did they live whom we see attain together the glory of martyrdom."

Hom. v. De Eod. Fest. p. 36, t. vi. Bib. Max. SS. PP.p. 36.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 43-44

"On account of this confession, the blessed Apostle merited to hear from the mouth of the Lord, "Thou art Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church." That is, thou art the first to confess me on earth, and I will make thee have a perpetual primacy in Heaven, and in my kingdom. And what more just than that the Church should be built on him, who gives so mighty a foundation to the Church? What could be more religiously done, than that he should receive the keys of Heaven, he who revealed the Lord of the heavenly kingdom; inasmuch as he who opened to believers the gates of faith, the same should also open for them the gates of Heaven ?"

Serm. lxxii. De Dict. Ev. "Vos estis sal terrm" Galland. t. ix. p. 393.
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St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

Who is ignorant that the first of the Apostles is the most blessed Peter?

Commentary on John 56:1 [A.D. 416]

"Of this Church, Peter the Apostle, on account of the primacy of his apostleship, bore a character which represented the whole Church. For as to what personally regards him, he was by nature but one man, by grace one Christian, by a more abundant grace, one, and that the first, Apostle; but, when there was said to him, "I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth will be bound in Heaven..." he signified the whole Church, which, in this world, is, by divers trials, as it were by rains, rivers, and tempests, agitated, but falls not, because it was built upon a rock, whence Peter derived his name. For a rock (petra) is not derived from Peter (Petro), but Peter from a rock, as Christ is not derived from Christian, but Christian from Christ. For therefore does the Lord say, "Upon this rock I will build my Church", because Peter had said, "Thou art Christ the Son of the living God." Upon this rock, therefore, which thou hast confessed, I will build my Church. For Christ was the rock: upon which foundation of Peter himself was built. "For other foundation no man can lay but that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus." The Church therefore which is founded on Christ, received, in Peter, the keys of the kingdom of Heaven from him, that is, the power of binding and of loosing sins."

T. iii. Tract. cxxiv. in Joan. n. 5, col. 2470.
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St. John Cassian, (A.D. c.360 - 433), ordained a deacon by St. John Chrysostom and a priest in Marseilles, a Christian theologian celebrated in both the Western and Eastern Churches for his mystical writings. He is known both as one of the "Scythian monks" and as one of the "Desert Fathers". His opinions on grace being in opposition somewhat to those of St. Augustine and the Church, caused him to be opposed by St. Prosper.

"And if you would have the authority of a greater individual ... let us interrogate the greatest; that disciple amongst the disciples; that teacher amongst the teachers, who ruling the helm of the Roman Church, as he had the primacy of faith, so also had he the primacy of the priesthood. Tell us, then, tell us, we beseech thee, O Peter, prince of the Apostles, how the churches are to believe in God: for it is just that thou shouldst teach us, who wast thyself taught of the Lord; and that thou shouldst open to us the gate, of which thou didst receive the key.

Exclude all those who are undermining the heavenly house; turn away those who are striving to enter through false caverns and unlawful gates; since it is certain that no one can enter in at the gate of the kingdom, but he unto whom the key, placed by thee in the churches, shall open it."

De Incarn. l. iii. p. 78; t. vii. Bibl. Maxim. SS. PP.
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Paulus Orosius (A.D. c.375-c.418), Spanish; a Christian historian, theologian, student and friend of Augustine of Hippo. He is best known for his "Seven Books of History Against the Pagans". His "History of the World" is valuable, and has been frequently translated.

"Did Christ address these words to thee (Pelagius): "Amen I say to thee, that flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in Heaven ?" Did He say to thee, "Thou shalt be called Cephas? Was it to thee that He gave this assurance, "Upon this rock I will build my Church?"

De Liber. Arbit. t. vi. Bib. Max. SS. PP. p. 457
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Zacchaeus, (unknown - A.D. c.430), name of a fabricated writer under which he defends Christianity. His real name seems to be Evagrius, who flourished in the late 4th century.

"But these men (Novatians) will deny that, despite the aid of whatever penitence you may imagine, they have power to forgive grievous sins; though they know that it is a part of their office and profession, either to bind the hardened, or to loose the sins that have been expiated; that sentence of our Saviour addressed to Peter,— into whose person the power of all priests is gathered together,— clearly teaching that, "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven, ..." (St. Matthew 16:19) Leave, therefore, has been given to forgive sins without any exception,

L. ii. Consult. Zach. c. xviii. Galland, t. ix. p. 238.
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Sedulius (Flourish in A.D. 435) A priest and poet whose principal work was a poem in five books called "Carmen paschale". The first book contains a summary of the Old Testament; the four others a summary of the New Testament. A prose introduction dedicates the work to a priest named Macedonius.

"The Lord benignantly asks Peter whether he loved Him? and desirous, as a good shepherd, to increase His flocks, He commits to him, as to a most faithful, or tried servant, His sheep and His lambs, on his answering at once that he did love Him. . . . That He assigns to Peter especially the dignity of feeding His flocks, though He showed that He bore equal love towards all of them, was no detriment to the rest, but is seen to be connected with a motive."

Carm. Paschal. l. v. c. 23, p. 599, t. ix. Galland.
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St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

Commenting on, "Thou art Simon, the son of Jona, thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter (John 1:42):

"He no longer calls him Simon, exercising authority and rule over him already, as having become His own. But by a title suitable to the thing, He changed his name into Peter, from the word petra (rock); for on him He was afterwards to found His Church."

T iv. Comm. in Joan, in loc. p. 131.
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"They (the Apostles) strove to learn through one, that preeminent one, Peter."

T ix. Comm. in Joan, p. 736.
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"That the Spirit is God we shall also learn hence. That prince of the Apostles, to whom flesh and blood, as the Saviour says, "did not reveal" the divine mystery, says to Ananias, "Why hath Satan tempted thy heart?"

T. v. Par. 1, Thesaur. p. 340.
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St. Proclus, (unknown-A.D. 447), a friend and disciple of St. John Chrysostom, he was placed on the patriarchal chair of Constantinople in 434. He appears to have been wise, moderate, and conciliatory, desirous, while strictly adhering to Orthodoxy himself, to win over those who differed from him by persuasion rather than force. He is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox church.

Peter, the coryphaeus of the disciples, and the one set over (or the chief of) the Apostles.. . . Art not thou he that didst say, "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God?" Thou
Bar-Jonas (son of the dove) hast thou seen so many miracles, and art thou still but Simon (a hearer)? He appointed thee the key-bearer of Heaven, and hast thou not as yet laid aside thy fisherman's clothing?"

Or. viii. In Dom. Transfig. t. ix. Galland. pp. 650-1.
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Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458), Greek; an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (A.D. 423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. His friendship for Nestorius embroiled him, for a time, with his great contemporary, St. Cyril of Alexandria.

Having quoted St. Luke 22:31-32, he says,

"For as I, Christ said, despised not thee when thou wast shaken, so do thou also be a support to thy brethren when troubled, and grant them that help of which thou hast partaken, and do not cast down the falling, but raise up those who are in danger. For, for this cause do I let thee to stumble first, but permit thee not to fall, providing stability, through thee, for the wavering. Thus did this great pillar support the tottering world, and suffered it not in any wise to fall, but placed it upright, and made it firm, and received a command to feed the Lord's sheep."

T. iii. Orat. de Carit.p. 1309.
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St. Peter Chrysologus, (A.D. 406 - 450), deacon, bishop of Imola and Ravenna, and Doctor of the Church, his piety and zeal won for him universal admiration, and his oratory merited for him the name Chrysologus, meaning: golden-worded or golden mouth.

"As Peter obtained his name from a rock, because he was the first that merited to found the Church by the firmness of his faith, so Stephen was so called from a crown, because he was the first who merited to engage in conflict for the name of Christ. . . . Let Peter hold his long-established primacy over the apostolic choir; let him open the kingdom of Heaven for those who enter in; let him with power bind the guilty; with clemency absolve the penitent."

Serm. cliv. p. 217.
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St. Basil of Seleucia, (unknown-A.D. 460), Bishop and ecclesiastical writer, distinguished during the period when the Eastern Church was convulsed by the Monophysite struggles, and was necessarily obliged to take sides in all those controversies. Those of his writings which have come down to us, though somewhat too rhetorical and involved, prove clearly that he was a man of great literary ability.We have forty homilies of his in the Paris edition from Gregory Thaumaturgus. 1632

"Peter that leader (coryphaeus) of the Apostles, that ruler of the disciples of Christ, that accurate expositor of the revelations from the Father, he who walked on the waves of the sea." (Matthew 14:29)

Orat. xvi. p. 97; In Ed. Op. S. Greg. Thaum. Paris, 1622.
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St. Avitus, (Alcimus Ecdicius), (A.D. c.470-525), a Latin poet and Anti-Arian archbishop of Vienne in Gaul, born of a prominent Gallo-Roman senatorial family

"Peter, the head of the Apostles, that is, the prince of the princes."

Fragm. i. p. 746, t. x. Galland.
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Catholics believe, that unique and superior powers were given to St. Peter and His successors by Christ, and that the bishop of Rome, as his successor, is the head of the whole Catholic Church. For this reason, what the Early Church Fathers referred to as the Church of Rome, we refer to today as the Roman Catholic Church; being a universal visible body, united under one visible head.


The Church's Scriptures that support the Primacy of Peter in the Church:


Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 When Jesus came into the region of Cæsarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" 14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven."


Matthew 16:13-19

Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial but prays for his (singular) faith.

31 "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you (second person plural pronoun, meaning "all of you") that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee (singular, Peter) that thy faith fail not: and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren."

Luke 22:31-32

Christ, after His resurrection, commissioned St. Peter to feed His lambs, and to feed His sheep, i.e., to be Shepherd over the whole flock:

15 "When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? He saith to Him: Yes, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again: Simon son of John, do you love me? He saith to Him: Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love you. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. 17 He saith to him the third time: Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter was grieved, because He had said to him the third time, Do you love me? And he said to Him: Lord, Thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love Thee. He said to him : Feed my sheep."

John 21:15-17

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