The primary reason I became Catholic seven years ago was the Chair of Peter. Let’s take a look as to why the Papacy to Pope Francis is so important in Scripture, in major reference sources, and his role today.
St. Peter is given the keys of the kingdom by Jesus to start the Church.–Matthew 16:15-19. St. Peter is mentioned more than all of the other Apostles put together—Mark 16:5-8, Luke 24:12-16, Acts 2:14-16, Acts 3:4-10, Acts 10:44-46, and Acts 15:5-10. His name starts at the top of every Apostle list. Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Acts 1:12-16. Many accounts from the Church Fathers both East and West throughout centuries refer to the authority/primacy of Peter. Pope Francis is a direct successor to St. Peter. Every secular textbook such as Encyclopedia Britannica and New World Encyclopedia say this.
The Apostles were the first Bishops of the Church, and they have an unbroken line of succession all the way to the Bishops, priests, and deacons we have today. This is called Apostolic Succession. This pedigree was essential in the Early Church and still should be today because it has passed down the faith delivered by Christ and the saints.
So why should Catholics listen to Pope Francis, the 266th successor to the Apostle Peter? Pope Francis is a huge promoter of ecumenicism, world peace, Catholic Social Teaching, inclusion, and reaching those on the margins. These traits are core and central to the life of a Jesuit clergyman like Pope Francis.
There is a great deal of turmoil in our political culture, wars in the Middle East, and increasing far-right violent religious extremist fascist movements in various places of the world, not just the United States. Do you think that ecumenicism, world peace, Catholic Social Teaching, inclusion, and reaching those on the margins could come in handy right now? Pope Francis is saving lives due to his character traits and approaches. He is placing love, family, safety, the right-to-life, and Catholic Social Teaching at the forefront of his ministry to move the Church into the 21 century.
Let’s look at Pope Francis’s recent effort to reach “those on the margins.”
There are three marginalized groups mentioned in this video. There are many other marginalized groups, but transgender people, sex workers, and homeless people seem to incur an extra dangerous helping of marginalization in current political climates.
When I converted to Catholicism, I researched the writings of the Earthy Church Fathers. Here are three of 20 that I found. Catholics, please follow our Pope’s vision. Marginalized populations are in serious danger all over the world. There is no doubt in my mind that Pope Francis is in the Chair of Peter for such a time as this.
First letter of Clement to the Corinthians ch 5 (27-97 ad)
Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy,endured not one or two, but numerous labours, and when he had finally suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. (mentions Peter first)
Tertullian Prescription Against Heretics ch 22 (160- 240 ad)
Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called “the rock on which the church should be built,” who also obtained “the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” with the power of “loosing and binding in heaven and on earth?”
Origen Commentary on the Gospel of John book 5 ch 3 (185-254 ad)
Paul, who fulfilled the Gospel from Jerusalem round about to Illyricum, did not write epistles to all the churches he taught, and to those to whom he did write he sent no more than a few lines. And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail left only one epistle of acknowledged genuineness. Suppose we allow that he left a second; for this is doubtful….
Origen Commentary on the Gospel of John Book 5 par 3 (185-254 ad)
And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail left only one epistle of acknowledged genuineness.