Recently I was speaking with a Mormon friend and we were debating whether or not Jesus formed the Catholic church or the pre-cursor to the Mormon church. I mentioned that in Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” My friend then began to read from Matthew 16:13-20 and said that when Jesus said “and upon this rock” he was referring to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah as stated by Simon Peter when he said, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” not that Peter was to be considered the first Pope and the head of the Catholic Church. Was Jesus referring to “the rock” as the basis for Christians in that he is the Messiah or is the fact Peter’s name means rock just a coincidence in this chapter?
The following links should assist you in better understanding the Catholic Church’s teaching on Peter as the first Pope. If you have any further questions or concerns that are not answered by these links, please contact Catholic Answers directly.