Peter's special status transferrable?


The following was posted in the Eastern Christian Forum. Although the issue of the papacy is pertinent to the discussion of the differences between Catholic and Orthodox churches, the discussion and response to it seemed more appropriate on the apologetics forum.

“The special status of those who knew Christ at the time of his ministry, who were with him, who were witnesses to his resurrection, cannot be transmitted to their successors. The post-resurrection appearances were ‘revelatory events,’ and in them Christ made himself known. Some of the events are characterized as ‘church-founding’ – without them there would be no church. It has been recognized that the disciples’ experience of the risen Christ cannot be compared with any visionary spiritual experience, with any form of mysticism. For Karl Rahner, the post-resurrection experiences of Christ’s disciples are “strictly sui generis,” and they belong to the very origin of the church. No one can succeed to the unique status promised to the twelve (Lk 22:30). The apostles cannot hand over their places in a kingdom appointed to them, nor can Peter transfer his role as the rock of the first Church in Christ. Only the church as a whole succeeds to these apostolic privileges. The apostles’ successor is the apostolic church, which possesses the fullness of apostolic tradition and with which Christ identifies himself (Acts 9:4). Every bishop in the apostolic church who occupies the place which Peter occupied at the eucharistic gathering, and who performs the pastoral duties which Peter performed, is the successor to the apostle. But no bishop can succeed to Peter’s unique place as a member of the twelve, as the first witness of the resurrection, and as the first head of the first assembly in Christ. Both the New Testament and the early history of the church are in full agreement on this point.”

– Veselin Kesich, “Peter’s Primacy in the New Testament and the Early Tradition,” in The Primacy of Peter: Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church. Edited by John Meyendorff, 1992, 56-57.

The following also has been the begining of a longer debate:

I was rather hoping to hear from the wider CAF on these topics…

All thoughts on how to answer this are appreciated.


On the Rome part of your quotation:

Jesus wanted the Gospel preached through all the world. If there had no been persecutions in Jerusalem it is questionable how far the Gospel would have traveled. The persecutions forced the apostles outward. We see in the book of Acts a powerful movement to establish the Church in Rome. That is where the book of Acts finishes. St. Luke states, “This is how we finally came to Rome” (Acts 28:14).

Some Evangelicals think the Book of Acts ends too abruptly. They fail to see that the establishment of the Early Church in Rome was the goal and Luke ends his book when this is accomplished… Jesus said “make disciples of all peoples” (Mat 28:19) and that could best be accomplished through the communications nerve centre of the world, which was Rome. link


The problem with the notion of Peter being able to do this - if he in fact had a ‘special status’ is that one of the earlier Popes may not have been chosen by him, but by Paul


How so? Explain?


I just don’t see how what you have posted here has anything to do with what I posted so I am not sure why you launched off my post. Can you clarify please? Thank you.

One of the earlier popes being who exactly?
Paul chose him or the Holy Spirit chose him?
Do you have any explanatory material, references, links?


I’ll have to PM you over this one

“Of the church of Rome, Linus the son of Claudia was the first, ordained by Paul; and Clemens (Clement), after Linus’ death, the second, ordained by me Peter."
“Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions,” Book 7, Chapter XLVI – “Who Were They that the Holy Apostles Sent and Ordained?”

Although I note some wish to interpret this as meaning Paul ordained Linus as priest


Thank-you, Ani Ibi, for a singularly helpful post… :thumbsup:

I had not until now understood Acts as “The Journey of the Faith to Rome”… And whereas I have serious doubts about your understanding of the persecutions as drivers of the Apostles to Rome - This relies far too much on the stick, and far too little on Christ and the Holy Spirit - Yet even so, the drive into the heart of the enemy, the Roman State, that Rome be won, that the world become Christian, makes great sense… And it took centuries…

I do fail to see that as a cause of Petrine primogeniture…

The Primacy of Rome was for that achievement of her saintly Popes and martyrs that won the world to Christ… And was retained by Her orthodoxy of Faith when all others were stumbling - eg it was conditional upon the actions of Rome… The idea of the See of Rome itself giving its Glory to the Bishops of Rome - eg Guaranteeing their orthodoxy of Faith - would certainly seem to place the cart before the horse…


Luke 22:25 And He said unto them,
The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them;
and they that exercise authority upon them
are called benefactors.

But ye shall not be as these:
but he that is greatest among you,
let him be as the younger;
and he that is chief,
as he that doth serve.


At Peter’s death Rome could have certainly had more than one bishop and it wouldn’t have mattered which bishops were ordained by Peter or Paul.

When Judas died the apostles chose Matthias to fill his office.

It is altogether reasonable to believe before Peter’s death in Rome that he would have prayed about who would lead the church after his death.

He could have made that choice known to others such as Linus and Paul and Clement or he could have said that the Holy Spirit would guide such bishops after his death in picking who his sucessor as leader of the church would be.

By the time Peter died the number of bishops could very well have been more than 12 around the world so there would never be a magisterium of just 12–but seeing that Jesus gave Peter especially the Keys–it would not be unreasonable to believe that Peter and the other leaders of the church in Rome would have easily seen that the possibility of his successor as leader of the church would need to be taken care of.

In any event the successors to Peter do not have to be ordained as bishop by Peter–they can be elected by other bishops–just as Martthias was elected to fill Judas’ spot.

It amazes me why people would think that with many chritians being killed-and with the election of Matthias–that Peter and Paul and the other disciples and bishops who were at Rome would have never thought about succession or been lead to think about it by the Hoy Spirit.

To believe such means to believe that not only were all of those people dumb but that the Holy Spirit was dumb, too!

That may work for Orthodox who want the keys to cease–but it doesn’t work in the real world where the “Gates of Hell” would not prevail against the Catholic Church built on the rock of Peter.


[quote=Reader Arsenios]I do fail to see that as a cause of Petrine primogeniture…

Sir this is a strawman. My post was placed to answer the Rome part of the question, not the papal authority of Peter. Please do not argue against something which I have not said as if I had said it. You don’t need my post to launch your own point of view. OK? Thank you.


Eusebius might be helpful on these questions.


My brother, please forgive my musings… These are indeed issues over on the Eastern Christianity board, from which I was referred to this Apologetics thread, and they were not at all what you were addressing… My bad…

Yet the title of the OP would certainly suggest that this is the focus of the thread… But anyway, you indeed were not addressing the OP, just as you said, and I was wrong to re-introduce it…

Did I already say “Thank-you” for your explanation of the purpose of the writing of Acts? Well no matter…

Thank-you again!

And God’s blessings…



I was addressing a quote posted by another poster. I indicated that by placing quote tags around the quoted material.


Indeed he might. But why post a link to the combined works fo his, without even suggesting wherein his works there might be an answer.

In effect you’re asking us to go research this for you…and it’s rather a large body of work to trawl through


[quote=Montalban]Indeed he might. But why post a link to the combined works fo his, without even suggesting wherein his works there might be an answer.

Because I know the answer is in there.

[quote=Montalban] In effect you’re asking us to go research this for you…and it’s rather a large body of work to trawl through


Oh hek no. There are always folks on the board who have a favourite write and can remember where they have read something. For instance, I can generally say that something exists in the mountainous works of Aquinas. But cpayne would be able to find it right away.

Let’s just say I ‘flagged’ Eusebius for future reference. btw it ain’t cool to attribute motive to folks. You could have framed your post in a question and got the same result. :shrug:


Thank-you, Ani Ibi… With God’s help, perhaps I will be able to avoid transgressing you in the future…

Will you forgive me?

Will you pray for me?




And the current Pope was chosen by the assembled Cardinals, weeks after the previous Pope was dead.

I don’t understand why the “Linus ordained by Paul” bit is supposed to be a telling blow against succession to the Petrine primacy, when it’s never been a requirement that the current Pope choose his successor.

(Now, the implication that Linus and Cletus were bishops in Rome at the same time as Peter is a little odd, but it’s certainly still possible that they succeeded to “primary bishop of Rome” status in order, just as the traditional list of Popes has it. Or perhaps that’s why the early lists don’t always agree on the order of the first four, since they all appear to have been contemporaries.)


(Note that, even if it turns out that Linus and Cletus were never really “successors” to Peter after his death, but rather more like an early version of co-adjutant bishops, the line of papal succession is still intact through Clement, who definitely outlived Peter – and was ordained by Peter, to boot, for those to whom that matters.)


Nitpick: I understood that Sts Peter and Paul were both martyred on the same day.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit