Are the Popes considered Apostles?


Just trying to get a better understanding here, does the idea of Apostolic succession make the Popes Apostles?

Does anyone have any comments or reading on this for me?

Thanks and God bless


An apostle is an eye-witness to the Resurrection. So only St Peter was an apostle, the rest were successors to the apostles.


Thank you this is what I thought. Someone asked me and I wanted to be sure that this is what the Church taught.

God bless


You are correct, but all of the Twelve except for Judas, were witnesses tot he Resurection. Matias, also a witness as named as an Apostle to replace Judas.

St. Paul was given a direct witness, so all were Apostles.

So they were the only Apostles. The current bishops have the full Authority of the Apostles, and are their sucessors, but are not ‘Apostles’ in the correct sense.



Thanks for the clarification. I don’t think Malcolm McLean was saying that St. Peter was the only Apostle but that he was the only Apostle who was also a Pope. Thats how I read it anyways.

God bless


So my next question is where is this person who asked me this going wtih this question?

Something like “If they are not considered Apostles how could they have Apostle authority?” :confused:

Anyone have any idea? Just trying to get an idea of what to say when I tell this person their answer.

God bless


I suggest you read up in the Catechism on the entire section related to the Bishops and their Apostolic authority. (The Catechism section on the Creed entitled One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic).

To summarize, the authority is given via ordination (Sacrament of Holy Orders) and the laying on of hands by Bishops to consecrate new Bishops. The Apostles-- the first Bishops-- ordained others, starting with Matthias. The New Testament shows that the Apostles imposed hands on those who they left in the various cities and regions as leaders as they moved on to spread the Gospel. And, the testimony of the Early Church Fathers confirms this succession of authority.


Apostles =//= Popes - Popes =//= Apostles.

Jesse was the father of David. David was king of Israel. it does not follow that Jesse was king of Israel.

So with the Apostle Peter - his ministerium in the Church is continued in the Papal ministerium; it does not follow that because he was an Apostle, they too are. Nor does it follow that because they are Popes, he was. This second mistake is comparable to thinking that because David came from Jesse as son, he must therefore have come from him as king; but coming from Jesse as one of his sons, does not imply that Jesse was king.

That is an example of the fallacy of totality: an obvious mistake would be to reason that:
*]The Pope offers Mass in St.Peter’s
*]The Pope is the successor of Peter
]therefore, Peter must have offered Mass in St.Peter’s[/LIST]The Papacy is one instance of how something permanent in the Church - the ministry conferred on Peter - operates in history. The ministry is permanent so long as the Church has work to do on earth: it was present in the Church from the the beginning; the manner of its exercise, has varied.

The Apostles had a wider, or fuller, function in the Church than any bishop, the Pope included - their successors the bishops are like canals leading off from a great river: the grace in Apostles & bishops is the same, but not the extent of responsibility. So though the Popes have very extensive authority, it is “de-fined”, limited, given boundaries, by the fact that they are not Apostles - within that limitation, it is supreme & universal; not for their aggrandisement, but for for the good of the Kingdom of God. It is an example of God working out His purposes through created means - which is how the sacraments work, & how sinful men are able to do the works of Christ.

[size=1] from minister,* “servant”; Greek diakonos - the Pope has authority to serve; but none to “lord it over the flock”. Jesus is Lord by acting as a servant - & that is His example to His Apostles. Which means that Papal authority is real, but not like any this-worldly authority; its character is conditioned by its origin. Which is presumably why the Pope is “servant of the servants of God”. [/size]


The Bishops are the successors to the apostles, but they are not apostles. Popes are successors to Peter, but only Peter, the first pope, was also an apostle.

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