Today is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
Both are apostles and both preached the Gospel widely.
Paul concentrated on the non-Jews, Peter mostly on people of Jewish background.
Both went to Rome where they were martyred.
Peter was appointed by Jesus himself as leader of the group of Apostles.
There are several places in the scriptures where this leadership role is clearly shown.
Soon the early church began to see the church in Rome as being the place where disputes were settled.
It was recognised that Peter’s role of servant leadership was passed on to the Bishops of Rome, who we now call the Pope.
Respect for that office was always seen as being a sign of communion with the universal Catholic Church.
This is the Church that most fully expresses the signs of continuity with the original church.
That remains true today.
Ideologies and excesses of laxity or rigidity have often led to strange places, even those out of Communion with the Apostolic Church.
The Popes themselves are of course human beings and are accountable to God for their behaviour, like all of us.
In the history of the Church, Popes have been Saints and sinners.
We have been blessed that the last several Popes, including the present Pope, have been saintly and very good men.
Jesus did promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church and that he will be with us till the end of time.
He changed Simon’s name to Peter, which means a ‘slab of rock’. He said on that rock he will build his Church.
Respect for that role is an indicator of true Catholic authenticity to this day.