This is the last in a four-part series on Roman Catholicism.
After Simon Peter makes his famous declaration that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus tells the apostle, “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:16, 18).
Jesus further states, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven” (v. 19).
Is Jesus declaring Peter the first pope and thus establishing apostolic succession? The Roman Catholic Church says yes, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear:
“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 the shepherd of the whole flock…. 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….
“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.”
Of course, not everyone agrees.