This particular feast celebrates both the physical Chair of Peter in Antioch – the chair created to host Peter in the two seats of power in Rome and Antioch – and most importantly the teaching authority of Peter and his successors through out the history of the Church.
Where does the authority/power come from?
– Scripturally we see the establishment of the authority of Peter as the person who
will be in charge of continuing the mission of Christ when Jesus is no longer
with them, just after Peter professes Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of the living
God.” Mt. 16:16
– In response, Jesus says: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not
revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church […] in Mt. 16:17-18
– It is from this passage that we found our belief that Peter is the
Rock on which the Church is to be built.
Jesus drives this in further when he says to Peter in Mt.16:19 :
“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.”
– When we look at this passage the Catechism helps us
understand more fully what is happening when Jesus
“hands over the keys.”
– The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the
house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd,
confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my
sheep.”288 The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority
to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to
make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this
authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles289
and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to
whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom. (CCC,
– Peter and Bishops as caretakers of the Church but how does this work?
881 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.”401 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.
– So not only the Pope, but all of the Bishops of the Church are in-charge
of binding and loosening, in other words, all the Bishops along with and
directed by the Pope are in charge of guiding the Church and its
members to truth.
– The Pope has supreme power in the Church.
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.”402 “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.”40
– The Bishops speak in union with the Pope as a voice joined together in
helping to guide the Church in Truth.
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.”404
– When it comes to matters of the Magisterium – teaching authority of the
Church – the Pope has the ability to speak, “Ex Cathetra” (out of the chair of Peter)
– This is the doctrine of Papal infallibly – w/o error and applies in the
following cases according to -. 117 in Michael Pennock’s “This is Our
– “he teaches as pastor of all the faithful” – and thus it means the
teaching is binding to all the faithful
– “he intends to use his full authority in an unchangeable decision”
– “the subject is a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.”
– Examples of Infallible Papal Doctrines
– Immaculate Conception – Pius IX
– Assumption of Mary – Pius XII