This Feast is about the unity of the Church based on the faith of the Apostles.  Among the Apostles St. Peter was given a role of leadership by Jesus (Matt:16 13-19).  There are a number of places in the New Testament where Peter is given that leadership role.

The Church has accepted for a long time that this leadership role was passed on to the Bishops of Rome.  Peter went to Rome.  He died and is buried there.

The role of the successors of Peter, the Popes, is to keep the Church united in faith.

Disputes arising in the early Church were often referred to the Bishop of Rome and settled there.

Disagreements can be done constructively, or destructively.

The role of keeping the Church together is very important and a sacred role.

In a synodical Church we understand that God can, and does, speak to us through each other, not just the ordained, but through all the members of the family of the Church.

However, the role of the Pope is very significant.  It is a role given by Christ.  The role will need to keep on evolving under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

St. John Paul II asked for prayerful suggestions for this ongoing purification, and a deeper understanding of the role.

It is a God-given gift to the Church that is both very significant and graced.

Historically, over two-thousand years of history, there were many Popes, among them some are great Saints, others big sinners.

Human beings sin and Popes can sin.  Of course, they should model their lives on Christ.  Like all of us, they need and should be committed to holiness.

Cardinal St. John Henry Newman, the great intellectual and convert to Catholicism, said “It is not my role to criticise the Pope, it is God’s role”.

Respectful criticism of anyone, including the Pope, can be a very good thing.  St. Paul criticised St. Peter: Mother Theresa lovingly disagreed with St. John Paul II on some things.

However, always with love and respect.

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