The whole Rome thing

This thread reminded me of a hand grenade that was thrown at me which I had no answer for. Could someone give me some advice?

Protestant Question:

And what’s that whole big deal with Rome? What happened to it all being centered in Jerusalem with God’s people?

Part of the reason I feel I didn’t have an answer to the question is because it’s not really asking a specific question but possibly even intended to not have an answer. How would you Catholics respond to a question like this?



There is an interesting discussion which I have read once before, that, and particularly in the thought of St. Luke, that Rome, being the political and cultural centre of the world at that time, represents the universality- that is, catholicity- of the Church’s mission. Acts, Beginning with Pentecost in Jerusalem, where every person hears the the proclaimation of the Gospel in their own language, ends with the proclaimation of the Gospel in Rome- the centre of the world.

The movement in the account of Acts from Jerusalem to Rome can be read theologically in this way.

My answer would be that it really isn’t “About Rome”. Rome just happens to be where the center of Church Authority evolved because it was
a) where Peter was Bishop when he was martyred,
b) it was the political center of the Roman empire and had so communications into and out of Rome were probably the best. (remember the old saying “all roads lead to Rome”)

The Shift also occured because the Jewish leaders eventually rejected the Christians outright and this was followed by the desctruction of the Temple and the dispersion of the Jewish people.

In other words there were a number of reasons why “Rome” became the seat of the Church instead of Jerusalem.

Of course technically we could say that it isn’t about Rome at all but rather it is about “The Vatican”, though Rome is the common way to refer to it.

The Bottom line is Christ’s Church needed to be “headquartered” somewhere and Rome just happened to be it. But it isn’t “about Rome”, it is about following God, and Christ, and being a part of His Church.


OK. Thanks guys; I know what to say if the issue is pressed further.


Like said, it isn’t about “Rome” it is about “Peter.” Jesus gave Peter some unique assignments and gave him unique attention and promises not made to the other apostles. Acts clearly shows that apostles were replaced when lost (see Judas Iscariot). Thus, Scripture implies that SOMEBODY out there still holds Peter’s apostolic office, right? Who? Well, if you follow the Scriptural principle established in Acts, it must be the bishop of Rome. Read Acts of the Apostles. Peter is clearly central in the post-Pentecost church. Paul writes a lot more and probably is a more effective evangelist, but that SHOULD be the case since that is precisely the role God personally called him to.

You, of course, can flip the question. “What’s with the whole BOOK thing?” Scripture clearly shows a church in which apostles teach with authority granted by Christ. Who invented this whole “BOOK ALONE” thing and why this model not show up in the behavior of the early church? Why do none of the apostles ever SAY that upon the death of the original 14 (don’t forget that Paul and Judas’ replacement are genuine apostles), authority transfers to ONLY the writings of those apostles. Wouldn’t such a momentous change be important enough to mention???

Peter was the first Bishop of Rome. According to Tradition, he went to Rome and was bishop in that city when he was martyred. The successor appointed to follow him was endowed with his authority, and he also remained Bishop of Rome because that was the See of St. Peter. Because the successors of St. Peter have always resided at Rome, that is the heart of the Catholic Church on Earth, for that is where Christ’s chief representative, the Pope, resides.

Rome is also very important and sacred because the blood of saints Peter and Paul was shed there.

Rome is a symbol of the vastness of God’s mercy. Rome was once described in the Bible as Babylon the Great, the center of all the world’s infamies. That such a place of unspeakable evil was transformed into the center of the world’s holiness, the home of the Vatican and the heart of the Bride of Christ, shows that God’s mercy can truly overcome any evil. Rome converted from paganism to Christianity, ceased to be the center of the darkest wickedness to become the light of the entire world. It killed the noblest Christians, but then was converted to give Christianity the fullest life.

Rome was transformed from the Whore of Babylon into the Bride of Christ, a powerful representation of the death to sin and rise in Christ that takes place in every Christian through water baptism and in all repentant sinners through Christ given heart conversion. It is justly the heart of the Church on Earth, for it changed from being the heart of the world’s evil to becoming the heart of the world’s holiness, and thus it reveals the glory of God more perfectly than any other place in the world. It represents each converting sinner, each soul winging its way up to join the Lord, and it is the light of hope to all that feel God cannot save one such as them.

When the pagan Roman armies destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, the Jews (and Christian Jews) were forced to be scattered throughout the Empire because the whole era of Worship in the Temple had ended. Most Jews left voluntarily, and the nation of Judah was no more. Rome was always ‘the’ important city of the West, and so a large Christian community had slowly developed there. Due to its strategic location, the Church itself became a strong influence in Rome.

The Avignon Papacy refers to a period in the history of the Roman Catholic Church from 1309 to 1378 when the seat of the Pope was moved from Rome to Avignon. And actually, if anything happened to Rome as a city, the political center of the Church could very well pack up and go elsewhere, such as Jerusalem if need be.

But to answer your question, the info in the first paragraph should suffice. :slight_smile:

This was really over-emphasized back in my World History class… it was a very anti-catholic book and teacher. We had to take it to the office… she was telling lies, and trying to tell me that something was part of Catholic teaching that wasn’t.:rolleyes:

But anyway, think of what you’d do if you’re trying to change the world. You’d first change New York city… the influence upon the world from its most important city should not be underestimated! It’s nice to think that Jesus actually did conquer the Roman empire… but with love, not revolution like people had thought.

\My answer would be that it really isn’t “About Rome”. Rome just happens to be where the center of Church Authority evolved because it was
a) where Peter was Bishop when he was martyred,
b) it was the political center of the Roman empire and had so communications into and out of Rome were probably the best. (remember the old saying “all roads lead to Rome”)\

**There are other points that deserve mention:

c) Rome was illustrious for her many martyrs.
d) the local Roman church and her bishops and clergy were known for the purity of their faith during the era of Christological controversies.
e) St. Paul was martyred in Rome as well–so there was a city associated with TWO different apostles.**

It’s nice to think that Jesus actually did conquer the Roman empire… but with love, not revolution like people had thought.

Yes that certainly is a nice thought.

Rome was significant in the secular world, obviously, because of the Roman empire.

For Christians, its significance was due to Peter AND Paul being (and being martyred) there.

Don’t forget that Pope St. Leo the Great facing down Atilla the hun certainly didn’t hurt the prestige of the Papacy in the least.

I have to guess at the meaning of the question, which I assume means why aren’t we the Jerusalem Catholic Church instead of the Roman Catholic Church. If Jesus appeared today to you and a group of 11 of your companions, and told you to spread the gospel throughout the whole world, would you start in Butte Montana, or Ames, Iowa? Or would you to to New York City, or possibly Washington DC, if you wanted to reach the widest audience?

The Church’s center being near Rome (Vatican City) is simply a side effect of the Churches belief that Peter was head of the Church.

Tell your friend to read the Church fathers and where the center tend s to be…he will find that it is Rome, not Jerusalem. If your friend is truly a Christian then he should believe that the Christian Church is the new Isreal or, more accurately, the fullfillment thereof. Therefore, explain to him, his question is akin to saying, “why aren’t Christians jews? Why don’t we keep to levitical law? Aren’t the Jews the people of God?”

Likewise, Rome is the new Jerusalem.

The jewish high priest, he who, according to Jesus, spoke from the “seat of Moses” was located in Jerusalem.
Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom and very obvious leadership authority to Peter, and Peter’s “seat” is in Rome.

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