Things confuse me about the supremacy of Rome

These are two points that confused me about whether the Catholic Church was the first because of honor or had authority over other Churches.

1 - Some said that Rome was the first because it was the Imperial city at the time. yet, in my opinion, if that is the case, then Rome would become second after she became the " Old Rome". Anyway, I would love to hear your comment on this point, as I learn more from.

2 - There is a letter from one Pope of Rome saying that there are three Holy sees and in them is the chair of St Peter, Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. which made me think that means Alexandria and Antioch are equal to Rome and have the same authority. however, I found out that Rome called the First Holy see, Alexandria is the second Holy see, and Antioch is the third Holy see. Is that true ?


  1. The Catholic understanding of the papacy is based on promises to Peter. Since he died there, his papal successor has persisted there. The papacy is not founded on Rome’s imperial status. To try to debunk the Catholic concept of the papacy without addressing the Catholic argument related to Peter is to attack a straw man or simply argue a non sequitur.

  2. The Council of Constantinople 381 said, “the bishop of Constantinople…shall have the prerogative of honor after the bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome…” but this seems to be a rank of honor. As well, Catholics do indeed recognize Peter’s successors in the other cities. For instance:From Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) from April 2005 on Peter’s successors. Excerpt:
    Moreover, Eusebius of Caesarea organized the first version of his ecclesiastical history in accord with the same principle. It was to be a written record of the continuity of apostolic succession, which was concentrated in the three Petrine sees Rome, Antioch and Alexandria-among which Rome, as the site of Peter’s martyrdom, was in turn preeminent and truly normative.

I am not sure how to answer your question - but what is certain is that other places were Christian before Rome, such as Antioch and Alexandria.

Regarding #1
The Holy See is in Rome because that is where the Chair of St. Peter currently is. If the Pope were to decide to become the Pope of Mexico City (the largest See in the World in terms of # of Catholics) instead of Rome, then the Bishop of Mexico City would be the head of the Church.
Let’s look at this from simple logistics and logic (ignoring all Canon law) for a moment:

The main reasons why the Pope is the Bishop of Rome instead of his home See is both is tradition (lower case t) and the simple fact that the Vatican has the facilities to be the seat of the Church. Moving the Holy See to another sea would require a lot of infrastructure upgrades to that See. And even if the Pope decided to leave the Archives, Curia, etc in Rome and reside elsewhere; it’s just simply easier to do his job in the same location as the Curia. That’s why you don’t see many countries with their Legislature and Head of State in different cities. And many times, when attempted in history, it didn’t last long. Even in today’s world with telephone, email and video conferencing, it’s much easier to work with your team face to face.

Regarding #2

Yes, it’s true, but it’s not as literal as people think. This is really an issue of primacy, not supremacy. I believe the See of Constantinople (or at least the Bishop) took primacy over those Sees/Bishops.

As an example, let’s look at the Church here in the United States vs. Mexico:

The Archbishop of Baltimore has primacy over all Bishops in the United States who are not Cardinals. This is because the Archdiocese of Baltimore was the first diocese in the United States. However, he is not the Primate of the United States because the American Bishops asked the Pope during the 1800’s to allow them to vote for a Conference President (which they vote on every 3 years). The elected President acts as Primate and speaks for the USCCB, not the Archbishop of Baltimore. However, when they line up for processionals, etc. The Archbishop of Baltimore goes first before all non Cardinals. Why, because he has primacy, but not supremacy.

In Mexico, the Archbishop of Mexico City is the Primate of Mexico. He is the top bishop in that Country and always resides over Mexico’s Conference of Bishops. He has been granted limited “supremacy” over the other bishops in Mexico. But it’s only limited to what Canon Law, the Pope and the Conference’s bi-laws permit. The Archbishop of Mexico City does not have the power to directly interfere with how another Bishop in Mexico runs his dioceses.
Rome, Alexandria & Antioch are historic Sees and were among the first Sees/Dioceses setup by the Apostles. St. Peter setup Antioch before he went to Rome. But the Supremacy of the Pope lies with Peter and his successors. So when Peter left Antioch for Rome, the primacy and supremacy of his office moved to Rome with him. The Keys of the Kingdom were granted to Peter, not the See he resided over and are passed down to each individual Pope.

Now, even today, Antioch and Alexandria are recognized for their primacy by being Sees which are lead by Bishops who have been named Patriarchs.

I hope this helps, if you have questions regarding what I’m trying to say; feel free to reply or PM me. God Bless.

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