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Scott P. Richert

265 Popes . . . and Counting

By February 22, 2013

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Everyone who has ever been to a Vacation Bible School has sung the old song, "Peter built the Church on the rock of our faith . . . "A stained-glass window of Saint Peter, Apostle, in Saint Peter's Cathedral, Rockford, Illinois. (Photo © Scott P. Richert) We Catholics believe, however, that it was Jesus Christ who built the Church on the rock of Peter's faith, going so far as to give his disciple Simon the name Peter, which means "Rock."

Christ didn't just give Simon a new name—he gave him a new job. Peter was the first pope, a fact which we celebrate today, February 22, in the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. The Papacy has continued, unbroken, down through 265 popes of the Roman Catholic Church over two millennia. The length of time that this institution has survived is a remarkable achievement—and, one might argue, itself proof of the divinely ordained nature of the office of the Vicar of Christ.

In 2013, our celebration of the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter is, of course, bittersweet, in light of Pope Benedict XVI's announcement of his resignation, effective at 8:00 P.M. Rome time on February 28, 2013. Yet even as we prepare for the Chair of Saint Peter to become vacant, we know that in March the College of Cardinals will meet in conclave to elect a new pope, who will most likely be installed before Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday.

These are troubling times for the Church, and no one believes that Benedict XVI would have resigned if he had felt physically and intellectually up to the task of guiding the Church through rough waters. But when Christ renamed Simon, He also gave him--and us--a promise: "Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). As the Holy Spirit guides the Church, we can be sure that the next pope to be elected will be the man that we need to ensure that Christ's promise will be fulfilled.

(A stained-glass window of Saint Peter, Apostle, in Saint Peter's Cathedral, Rockford, Illinois. Photo © Scott P. Richert)
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Comments
February 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm
(1) kevin says:

The “stone” (rock) that the builders rejected has become the “head”, that is Christ, not Peter”pebble”, and so the error of Papal authority continues. Its Christ, not Peter that holds the “keys” to hell and death, and He is the “door” to the Father. Christ said call no man father, rabbi ect. You have ONE father in heaven.

February 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm
(2) Scott P. Richert says:

Kevin, I’m disappointed. You ran out of anti-Catholic canards so quickly!

In all seriousness, try supplementing (not replacing!) your reading of Scripture with the writings of the Church fathers. You can find the texts online, for free, at http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html.

February 23, 2011 at 7:43 am
(3) Mary42 says:

Surely, do we still have people with the denial mentality like Kevin, who simply cannot accept the simple truth that Christ built His Church on St. Peter and further, He gave him the keys of Heaven – which means, authority to govern the Catholic Church under the Magisterium? One need not be a highly read Catholic Church Historian or a super-Theologian to understand the straight-forward Gospel passages which speak of this Truth. The Conferment of the Leadership of the Church to Simon bar Jonah by Jesus Christ? Would I be out of Order to ask Kevin to apologize to the entire Catholic Faithful?

February 22, 2013 at 11:48 am
(4) Paul says:

Dear brother in Christ Kevin,
It seems that you completely dismissed the huge body of written evidence through 1300 years, how the authority of the Church was to be handed down. Even the words of Christ you mus-interpret with such ignorance of facts. You read Protestant literature, which dismisses a whole lot of other facts as well, out of convenience to Henry VIII, and Martin Luther, who were not even born when all this Tradition took place.

I recommend going back to Catholic sources, and listen to Dr. Scott Hahn, St. Paul Center of Biblical Theology to the scholarly lessons he gives how the Covenants that God made through the ages, and finally, Jesus Christ made in the New and Final Covenant, the Catholic Church was instituted and maintained orally for the First Century, and the Bible started forming 80 years later; not by our brother Protestants, who were not born yet, but by the Church. You will be amazed how this convert Minister became Catholic – listen to his talk on conversion. It is full of facts you missed out on in your short fact less answer.

I hope this helps everyone who wants to know the Truth. look for the Truth and not truth altered by convenience for a King to remarry, outside the Church’s rules on marriage, instituted by Christ. God bless you all.

February 22, 2013 at 11:59 am
(5) Paul says:

Kevin,
You completely missed all the history of the Church from the First Century to the 12th Century before any Protestants were born. I recommend if you want any truths about the Catholic Church, research Scott Hahn who is a convert Minister, and is President and founder of St. Paul’s Center for Biblical Theology. His books as well as You Tube Videos are excellent in how he became Catholic, and is convinced by the evidence he found in such research, that the Catholic Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. You mus-quoted what Jesus said who Peter was to be, and the symbolism of the title. Jesus also said that not even the gates of hell would prevail against her (the Church), and look, it is still here today, and will be here until the end of time. Happy, researching, Kevin. God bless.

February 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm
(6) Paul says:

Kevin,
I recommend that you do more research in Church history and not use Protestant books which are in error of the truth about Catholic history from the First Century until the 12th Century, way before Protestantism. Look up Dr. Scott Hahn, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and his books, and You Tube videos on his conversion from being a Minister and becoming Catholic merely by studying the early Fathers of the Church, and the history of the Church. You will be amazed, and may even convert yourself. God bless, happy researching.

February 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm
(7) Matthias Philip Zizam says:

Thank you Scott, Mary and Paul for a work well done. Dearest Kevin, it is left for you to figure out. I pray for your (Kevin) conversion.

February 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm
(8) Sues says:

Dear Kevin well you sure copped a lot of responses didn’t you. Here’s one more: St Paul more than once callshimself ‘father in faith’. You see the title was established long ago. :-)

February 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm
(9) Brenda says:

Kevin, as I’ve told many Protestants, much to their surprise, Jesus spoke Aramaic. Caiphas is the word in Aramaic that not only means stone, it means “massive stone”, or large rock. When the text was translated into Greek, they had no such word and could only go with “petra” … which means pebble. Christ would never have referred to Peter’s “large faith” as a ‘pebble’. In the language that Jesus spoke, it was “massive rock”. But maybe that doesn’t fit your anti-catholicism, right?

February 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm
(10) Fred Bledsoe says:

Hi Brenda, et al, Just to continue your point about Jesus speaking Aramaic. A protestant might ask, “Well, why did the Greek manuscripts not give Peter the name of a large rock?” The answer is because to do so, the Greek manuscripts would have given him a feminine name “Petr-A”. The Aramaic name Peter actually received was “Kepha”, which as previously pointed out, does mean large rock. Kepha was also transliterated into the name Cephas, which means “Peter”. Interestingly, “cephalo” (from the greek “kephalo” means “HEAD”!.

February 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm
(11) Reginald Smith says:

As Mr. Richert puts it:

“Christ didn’t just give Simon a new name—he gave him a new job. Peter was the first pope, a fact which we celebrate today, February 22, in the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. The Papacy has continued, unbroken, down through 265 popes of the Roman Catholic Church over two millennia. The length of time that this institution has survived is a remarkable achievement—and, one might argue, itself proof of the divinely ordained nature of the office of the Vicar of Christ.”

Thank you for that Scott!
Nice and succinct.

- Reg.

February 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm
(12) Alwyn MD says:

Some people feel that it was a wrong step for the pontiff to resign. Once a Pope (Father) always a pope. With all his brilliance, conservative mindset and piety who could have steered the boat of St. Peter better? We may be living in the 21st century but for our loving God who gave us the ten commandments nothing has changed. There would be groups asking for changes in the Church as regards abortion, birth control, euthanasia, homosexuality and same gender marriages – all of which go against the laws of God and nature. We should trust our Lord to appoint for us a new pontiff who is steadfast in Church teaching and does not compromise to world standards.

February 23, 2013 at 5:52 pm
(13) Harry Hagan says:

In the spirit of levity, and like the old ad campaign, he’s too pooped to pope. In a more serious vein, it’s a really good time to pray for the real Spirit to lead us and the Church to a blessed selection of a new Pope who can safeguard the Church in these perilous times. There are many external forces that would love nothing better than that the Church founder on the Rocks of PC, moral relativism, and/or all the other modern foils.

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