Pope as successor of both Peter AND Paul?


I am reading Dr. Taylor Marshall’s (Dean of the College of St. John Fisher and Thomas Moore) new book: The Eternal City: Rome and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. Great book, so far! However, I have a question about one passage which claims, quoting Bl. Pope John Paul II, that the Pope is the successor of both Peter and Paul:

“In this regard it is interesting to underscore the reference of tradition to the two Apostles associated in their martyrdom with this Church. The Bishop of Rome is the Successor of Peter; however, he can also be called the heir of Paul, the greatest representative of the early Church’s missionary efforts and of the wealth of her charisms. The bishops of Rome have generally spoken, taught, defended Christ’s truth, celebrated pontifical rites and blessed the faithful in the name of Peter and Paul, the ‘princes of the Apostles’ the olivae binae pietatis unicae (‘the twofold olive-branch of a singular piety’), as is sung in the hymn for their feast on June 29. The Fathers, the liturgy, and iconography often depict this association in martyrdom and glory.”

What am I to make of this? Am I right in understanding that Paul was never actually a joint-Pope with Peter, though they shared the Apostolic ministry in Rome?

I think that Dr. Marshall really knows his stuff, but I have never heard anyone say this before. Can someone who understands clearly what Bl. John Paul II is talking about please comment?




St Paul was never Pope. (Neither, interestingly enough despite being the beloved disciple, was St John):slight_smile:

The Pope is the Successor of Peter as Pope.

The Pope’s greatest role (IMHO) is as an evangelizer. That’s the St Paul connection.:slight_smile:


The Pope is only the Successor of St. Peter


You’ve got to read the selection carefully. It calls the Pope the heir of St. Paul, which is much different than successor. Each Pope is the successor of St. Peter (in other words, and interestingly, the Pope is not the successor of the last Pope, but rather of the first Pope).

What is being underscored here is the connection of the Pope to both Peter and Paul. Both of them are intimately connected in the Church (the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul on the same day, for example; both of their statues standing guard at St. Peter’s). Both of their particular missions and duties are models and goals for the Pope.

So, the selection is not claiming that the Pope is the successor of both St. Peter and St. Paul, but rather that the Pope is the successor of St. Peter in his office as Pope, but is also the spiritual heir of St. Paul’s work and mission.

  • heir* of Paul...

(not successor)


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