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The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on St. Peter's Presence in Rome.


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


The Magisterium of the Church


85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 10 § 2) This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.


86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 10 para 2.)


87 Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me", (Luke 10:16; cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 20) the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.


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)


886 "The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches." As such, they "exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them," (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 23) assisted by priests and deacons. But, as a member of the episcopal college, each bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches. (cf. Vatican II, Christus Dominus 3) The bishops exercise this care first "by ruling well their own Churches as portions of the universal Church," and so contributing "to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which, from another point of view, is a corporate body of Churches." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 23) They extend it especially to the poor, (cf. Galatians 2:10) to those persecuted for the faith, as well as to missionaries who are working throughout the world.


887 Neighboring particular Churches who share the same culture form ecclesiastical provinces or larger groupings called patriarchates or regions. (cf. Apostolic Constitutions 34) The bishops of these groupings can meet in synods or provincial councils. "In a like fashion, the episcopal conferences at the present time are in a position to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegiate spirit." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 23 § 3)


In Brief


85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 10 § 2) This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

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)




  1. St. Dionysius of Corinth, (A.D. c.110 - 171)
    St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    Lactantius, (A.D. 240-c.330)
    St. Peter of Alexandria, (unknown - A.D. 311)
    Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338)
    Pope St. Damasus I, (A.D. 304-384)
    St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461)
St. Dionysius of Corinth, (A.D. c.110 - 171), Greek; bishop of Corinth, famed for his letters. He is described in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. One of Dionysius' letters commemorated the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul.

You have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time.

Letter to Soter of Rome [inter A.D. 166 -174] as recorded by Eusebius

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

"But as it would be a very long task, to enumerate in such a volume as this, the successions of all the churches : pointing out that tradition which the greatest, and most ancient, and universally known Church, — founded and constituted, at Rome, by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, — derives from the Apostles, and that faith announced to all men, which, through the succession of (her) bishops, has come down to us, we confound all those who, in any way, whether through pleasing themselves, or vain-glory, or blindness, and perverse opinion, assemble otherwise as suit them.

For with this Church, on account of its superior origin, it is necessary that every church agree, that is, all the faithful of the whole world everywhere maintain that tradition which is from Apostles."

Against Heresies 3:3:2 [A.D. 189]

Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.

Against Heresies 3:1:1 [A.D. 189]

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.

Let us see what milk the Corinthians drained from Paul; against what standard the Galatians were measured for correction; what the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Ephesians read; what even the nearby Romans sound forth, to whom both Peter and Paul bequeathed the Gospel and even sealed it with their blood.

Against Marcion 4:5:1 [inter A.D. 207-212]

Lactantius, (A.D. 240-c.330), was an early Christian author, the goal of his writings was to present Christianity in a form that would be attractive to philosophical pagans.

When Nero was already reigning Peter came to Rome, where, in virtue of the performance of certain miracles which he worked by that power of God which had been given to him, he converted many to righteousness and established a firm and steadfast temple to God. When this fact was reported to Nero, he noticed that not only at Rome but everywhere great multitudes were daily abandoning the worship of idols, and, condemning their old ways, were going over to the new religion. Being that he was a detestable and pernicious tyrant, he sprang to the task of tearing down the heavenly temple and of destroying righteousness. It was he that first persecuted the servants of God. Peter, he fixed to a cross; and Paul, he slew.

The Deaths of the Persecutors 2:5 [inter A.D. 316-320]

St. Peter of Alexandria, (unknown - A.D. 311), Appointed bishop in 300, martyred in 311; he headed the catechetical school at Alexandria. Eusebius calls this great prelate the excellent doctor of the Christian religion, and the chief and divine ornament of bishops; and tells us that he was admirable both for his extraordinary virtue and for his skill in the sciences and profound knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.

Peter, the first chosen of the Apostles, having been apprehended often and thrown into prison and treated with ignominy, at last was crucified in Rome.

Canonical Letter, canon 9 [A.D. 306]

Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338), appointed Bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 314, Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist, scholar of the Biblical canon who was deeply embroiled in the Arian controversy.

The Apostle Peter, after he has established the Church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains bishop of that city, preaching the Gospel for twenty-five years.

The Chronicle, Ad An. Dom. 42 [A.D. 303]

"The providence of the universal Ruler led as it were by the hand to Rome, that most powerful and great one of the Apostles, and, on account of his virtue, the mouthpiece (or, leader) of the rest, Peter, against that sad destroyer of the human race (Simon Magus). He, as a noble general (appointed) of God, armed with heavenly weapons, brought the precious merchandise of intellectual light from the east to the dwellers in the west."

H. E. l. ii. c. 14, pp. 63-64.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 12-13

Pope St. Damasus I, (A.D. 304-384), Roman; Pope and personal friend of St. Jerome; he succeeded Liberius in the chair of Rome; he defended with vigor the Catholic faith.

The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it. The second see, however, is that at Alexandria, consecrated in behalf of blessed Peter by Mark, his disciple and an evangelist, who was sent to Egypt by the Apostle Peter, where he preached the word of truth and finished his glorious martyrdom. The third honorable see, indeed, is that at Antioch, which belonged to the most blessed Apostle Peter, where first he dwelt before he came to Rome, and where the name Christians was first applied, as to a new people.

The Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]

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.

Thou cannot then deny but thou knowest that, in the city of Rome, on Peter was the first episcopal chair conferred, where of all the Apostles he might sit as the head; whence also was he called Cephas; that in that one chair, unity might be preserved by all; nor the other Apostles, each contend for a distinct chair for himself; and that whoso should set up another chair against the single chair, might at once be a schismatic and a sinner."

"Peter, therefore, first filled that individual chair, which is the first of the marks (of the Church); to him succeeded Linus; to Linus succeeded Clement; to Clement, Anacletus,

[he gives the whole succession] ...

to Liberius, Damasus; to Damasus, Siricius, who is now our colleague, with whom the whole world, by the mutual exchange of circular letters, is concordant with us in one fellowship of communion. You who wish to claim to yourselves the holy Church, tell us the origin of your chair?"

De Schism. Donat. l. ii. n. 2-4.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 17-18
The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [circa A.D. 367]

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.

"[Simon Magus] so deceived the city of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him. . . .While the error was extending itself, Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church, and they set the error aright. . . . [T]hey launched the weapon of their like-mindedness in prayer against the Magus, and struck him down to earth. It was marvelous enough, and yet no marvel at all, for Peter was there—he that carries about the keys of heaven. And it was nothing to marvel at, for Paul was there—he that was caught up into the third Heaven."

Catechetical Lectures 6:14 [A.D. 350]

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

"There came unto us a certain Marcellina, who had been led astray by these heretics (the Carpocratians), and she corrupted the faith of many during the days of that Anicetus, bishop of Rome, who succeeded Pius and his predecessors. For, in Rome, Peter and Paul were the first both Apostles and bishops; then came Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, the contemporary of Peter and Paul, of whom Paul makes mention in his epistle to the Romans (Philippians?) And let no one wonder that, though he was the contemporary of Peter and Paul, for he lived at the same time with them, others received that episcopate from the Apostles. Whether it was that while the Apostles were still living he received the imposition of hands as a bishop (of the episcopate) from Peter, and having declined that office he remained unengaged ... or whether, after the succession of the Apostles, he was appointed by bishop Cletus, we do not clearly know. . . . However the succession of the bishops in Rome was in the following order. Peter and Paul, and Cletus, Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Xystus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, the same named by me above as in the list. And let no one wonder that we have gone through each of these matters; for by means of these the manifest (truth) is for ever pointed out."

T. 1, Adv. Hæres (27) p. 107.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 274-275


Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461), also known as Leo the Great, bishop of Rome (A.D. 440 to 461); an Italian aristocrat, remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was foundational to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

"The whole world shares in all the holy solemnities, and the piety of one faith demands that whatsoever is commemorated as having done for the salvation of all, be celebrated with joy by all. Yet is this day's festival (St. Peter and St. Paul), besides that reverence which it has deserved from the whole universe, to be venerated with special and peculiar exultation by this city, that, where the departure (death) of the chief Apostles was made glorious, there, on the day of their martyrdom, be pre-eminent gladness. For these, oh Rome! are the men through whom the Gospel of Christ shone upon thee, and thou that was the teacher of error, hast become the disciple of truth. . . . These are they who have advanced thee to this glory, to be a holy nation, a chosen people, a priestly and royal city; that by the See of blessed Peter, made the head of the universe, thou mightest rule more widely by divine religion, than by earthly empire. For although, enlarged by many victories, thou hast extended thy right of empire by land and sea, yet, what the toil of war has subdued to thee is less than what Christian peace has subjected to thee. . . For when the twelve Apostles, having received through the Holy Spirit the gift of speaking in all tongues, had, with the districts of the world distributed amongst them, undertaken to embrace the world with the Gospel, the most blessed Peter, the prince of the apostolic order, is assigned to the capital of the Roman empire, that the light of truth, which was being manifested for the salvation of all nations, might more effectually diffuse itself from that head throughout the whole body of the world. For of what nations were there not individuals then present in this city? or, what nations were ever ignorant of what Rome had learnt?"

T. 1, Serm. lxxxii. c. 1-3 (In Natal. App. Petri et Pauli), pp. 321-323.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 185-186



Some contend that Peter couldn't have been the bishop of Rome because he was never in Rome. This of course runs counter to the testimony of the Early Fathers and Scripture.


In 1 Peter 5:12-13, Peter says:

"I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son."

Babylon was a code word for Rome and is used elsewhere in Scripture to mean the same thing. Examples can be found in Revelation 18:2, 18:10 and 18:21.


The Church's Scriptures that support St. Peter's Presence in Rome:

12 "I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. 13 The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son."

1 Peter 5:12-13


2 And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen; and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every unclean spirit, and the hold of every unclean and hateful bird.

Revelation 18:2


10 Standing afar off for fear of her torments, saying: Alas! alas! that great city Babylon, that mighty city: for in one hour is thy judgment come.

Revelation 18:10

21 And a mighty angel took up a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying: With such violence as this shall Babylon, that great city, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

Revelation 18:21

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