The Orthodox Pope v The Roman Catholic Pope - Who is Peter's Successor?

I found out today there is a Coptic Pope, who was described as “the real pope” in a news article. I was curious as to who had a better claim to Peter’s line of succession in the Papacy?

A couple things.

Pope originally was used to refer to many of the patriarchs or regional bishops. Eventually the honorific pope referred exclusively to the bishop of Rome, the successor of St Peter.

The head of the Coptic Catholic Church is the bishop of Rome. The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church is affectionately referred to as ‘pope’ which means ‘father’. and he is head of only one of the Orthodox Churches. Not the Greek, or Russian, or Ukrainian, etc.

Of course the Ethiopian is older than the Vatican. The Vatican state was only formed in 1929 whereas the name of the hill outside the city of Rome (the Vatican) was in use since the Roman republic (509 BC to 27 BC). In any case, the Bishop of Rome was around since Peter and Paul arrived in Rome.

I’ll quote from two posts I made in another past thread:

‘Pope’ is] just what [the Copts in Egypt] call their patriarch - papa. It’s a very early title: Pope St. Dionysius (259-268) in the 3rd century already referred to bishop Heraclas of Alexandria (232-246) as “our blessed pope (papa), Heraclas.” In fact, the bishop of Carthage in the 2nd-3rd century was also called papa. ‘Pope’ wasn’t a title specific only to the bishop of Rome. In fact, the bishop of Rome was probably one of the last to be called papa (some say it was Pope St. Marcellinus (296-304) who was the first Roman bishop to be called ‘pope’, while others say that it was Pope John I (470-526). Either way, you would notice that the bishop of Alexandria was called ‘papa’ first.)

…] The Coptic Pope is the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the head of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria (the highest authority within the Coptic Church), but just because he is called ‘pope’ doesn’t necessarily mean that Copts consider him to have the same functions or the same level of authority as Catholics consider the Pope of Rome to have within the Catholic Church. The Coptic Pope’s position within the Holy Synod is that of ‘first among equals’: he is simply the most senior bishop; he doesn’t have an office above that of the other bishops.

As Evan said, ‘pope’ (papa) wasn’t a specific term for a bishop who is the successor to St. Peter. It was originally just a general, affectionate term for patriarchs (regardless of the see), just like ‘Father’ is a general term for priests nowadays: that’s why the bishops of Rome, Alexandria or Carthage could all be called ‘pope’.

I have a work friend who is Coptic Orthodox and she says that their apostolic succession comes from St. Mark. So I would guess their patriarch would not be a contender for the successor of St. Peter.

The Primate of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Tawadros-2, has a legitimate claim to the ancient title of Pope, as he is patriarch of Alexandria, one of the five Sees of Antiquity.

But he cannot have a “better” claim to Peter’s line of succession if he does not even claim it for himself. The Coptic Orthodox Church does not claim to be in succession of St. Peter, but rather of St. Mark. Tawadros-2 is recognized (by his own Church) as the Primate of the Holy See of St. Mark (not St. Peter).

How could Tawadros-2 have a “better” claim to be Peter’s line of succession if he does not even claim it for himself? He claims to be St. Mark’s successor. And I do not care to dispute this claim.

I’ll give you one guess! Your right, the Roman Catholic Pope , Pope Francis. God Bless, Memaw

For those interested, I will provide the following quote :
[INDENT]Patriarchs Connected to Peter Establish Their Importance
When the Council of Nicaea in 325 was formalizing the organization of the Church it named three Patriarchs -the bishop of Rome first then the bishop of Antioch then Alexandria. They were all given prominence because (not of Roman political influence**) but Petrine connection**. Peter was martyred then buried in Rome (“there is Peter”).

Antioch had been his place of ministry thus placing Antioch second. Finally Alexandria had been founded according to tradition was Mark-Peter’s disciple and writer of the second Gospel. When at the Council of Constantinople in 381, the bishop of Constantinople was raised to second place replacing Antioch as second, they stated Andrew, Peter’s brother had ministered in that area so he was successor of Andrew—but notice the connection to Peter even here.

   Finally, you asked  was Peter or Rome important.  The answer is always  Peter.  The **Orthodox **think that the reason is Rome as capital of the ancient empire. It is **the connection with Peter (and Paul) that is important   not Caesar**.  If Peter had gone to  ancient London and was martyred there-there is Peter.  But here lies the answer behind the crisis of the papacy living to Avignon. The Popes at the time were the successors of Peter,  they remained (absentee) bishops of Rome. It took the like of St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Bridgett of Sweden to tell these popes to go back to Rome for "there is peter".   When John Paul II travels to preach the gospel--there is the successor of peter through whom he still ministers and guides the Church-in that  sense we say "Tu es petrus" "You are Peter"  but where is Peter??  In Rome.

    Hope this helps

    Fr F

[/INDENT]Some try to deny the importance of Peter by saying Christ built His Church on Peter’s faith or his theology. But that is not what Christ said. See

Peter the Rock and Caesarea Philippi

.

What he said.

I also seem to remember reading in one of the Epistles of Pope St. Gregory the Great that St. Gregory had specifically described Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria as each constituting the “Apostolic See” precisely because of the connection of each See to St. Peter, for the very same reason as noted in Fr. F’s answer above.

UPDATE: found the link that I was thinking of: “Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places is the See of one. For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life. He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist. He himself established the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years. Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by Divine authority three bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you, this I impute to myself.”

Here’s the last line from that article

Though not as influential, the Churches of both Egypt & Ethiopia are much older than the Roman Vatican

I’m thinking, If one is going to compare Churches in that fashion, then don’t change terms (Church vs Vatican) within the same sentence. Make the comparison between the Church in Egypt, or Ethiopia, and the Church of Rome. Not between those Churches in Africa vs when the “Vatican Basilica” was built.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Church of Rome, he said

Rom 1:
7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.c] 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, 10 asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.d] 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine…"

Peter wrote his 2nd letter from Rome, which is his See.

Under the reign of Nero, Peter was crucified upside down on Vatican hill and was buried there. When the Basilica was ultimately built on Vatican hill, that’s why it’s called the Vatican.

As far as the title “pope”, that title “papa”, is and was very popular. My grand kids call me papa.

In an ecclesiastic sense however, that title has become synonymous with one papa, one pope, the bishop of Rome.

Vatican, The

Yeah. Lemme add this:

It is possible that the See of Alexandria (in Egypt) precedes the founding of the See or Rome. But the Archeparchy of Addis Abeba (Etheopia) was not established until AFTER the First Council of Nicaea. It is NOT one of the Five Sees of Antiquity whose Metropolitans may legitimately claim the ancient title of “pope” (the Five Sees of Antiquity are Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem).

But the primacy of any See has nothing to do with which came first. It is likely that, among the five Sees of Antiquity, Rome was the last one established. Surely, everyone must agree that the See of Jerusalem (under St. James) was the first Apostolic See, chronologically speaking. Jerusalem was where the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles giving birth to the Church, and it is where the proto-Council of Acts 15 took place. And Antioch (in Turkey) was the place in which people were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), and is arguably the second most ancient Apostolic See.

Nobody thinks that EITHER Alexandria or Rome was really the very first Apostolic See (and Ethiopia is right out).

No (Roman) Catholic claims that the Bishop of Rome has primacy because Peter established his Apostolic See in Rome before any other Apostolic person established a See. We believe that the See of Rome has primacy because Peter established it. It is all about the WHO, and nothing about the WHEN.

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