Skip to content

Pope's Wednesday address - Peter, the Rock

"The Custodian of the Communion With Christ"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 7, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address at today's general audience, which he dedicated to comment on the theme "Peter, the rock on which Christ founded the Church."

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We resume the weekly catecheses that we began this spring. In the last one, two weeks ago, I spoke of Peter as the first apostle. Today we want to return once again to this great and important figure of the Church. The Evangelist John, when recounting the first meeting of Jesus with Simon, Andrew's brothers, mentions a singular detail: "Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas' -- which is translated Peter" (John 1:42). Jesus did not usually change his disciples' names.

With the exception of the nickname "sons of thunder," addressed in a specific circumstance to the sons of Zebedee (cf. Mark 3:17), and that afterward he would not use, he never attributed a new name to one of his disciples. He did so, however, with Simon, calling him Cephas, a name that was later translated into Greek as "Petros," in Latin "Petrus." And it was translated precisely because it was not just a name; it was a "mandate" that Petrus thus received from the Lord. The new name "Petrus" will return on several occasions in the Gospels and will end by replacing his original name, Simon.

This detail is of particular importance if one keeps in mind that, in the Old Testament, a change of name announced in general the conferring of a mission (cf. Genesis 17:5; 32:28ff, etc.). In fact, Christ's will to attribute to Peter a special prominence within the apostolic college is manifested with many clues: In Capernaum, the Master stays in Peter's house (Mark 1:29); when the crowds pressed upon him on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret, between the two moored boats, Jesus chose Simon's (Luke 5:3); when in particular circumstances Jesus remains only in the company of three disciples, Peter is always recalled as the first of the group. Thus it occurred in the resurrection of Jairus' daughter (cf. Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), in the Transfiguration (cf. Mark 9:2; Matthew 17:1; Luke 9:28), and finally during the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Mark 14:33; Matthew 16:37).

The tax collectors for the Temple went up to Peter, and the Master paid for himself and for Peter, and only for him (cf. Matthew 17:24-27); he was the first one whose feet he washed in the Last Supper (cf. John 13:6) and he prays only for him so that his faith would not fail and so that later he will be able to confirm the other disciples in it (cf. Luke 22:30-31).

On the other hand, Peter himself is aware of this particular position he has. He is the one who speaks often on behalf of the others, asking for explanations of a difficult parable (Matthew 15:15), or to ask about the exact meaning of a precept (cf. Matthew 18:21), or the formal promise of a recompense (Matthew 19:27). In particular, he is the one who surmounts the awkwardness of certain situations intervening in the name of all.

In this way, when Jesus, grieved by the incomprehension of the crowd after his discourse on the "bread of life," asks: "Do you also want to leave?", Peter's answer was peremptory: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:67-69). Jesus then pronounces the solemn declaration that defines, once and for all, Peter's role in the Church: "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. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19).

The three metaphors to which Jesus takes recourse are very clear in themselves: Peter will be the rock foundation upon which the building of the Church will be based; he will have the keys of the Kingdom of heaven to open and close to whom he thinks it is just; finally, he will be able to bind or loose, that is, will be able to establish or prohibit what he considers necessary for the life of the Church, which is and will continue to be Christ's. It is always Christ's Church and not Peter's. He describes with plastic images what subsequent reflection will describe with the term "primacy of jurisdiction."

This pre-eminent position that Jesus willed to give Peter is also seen after the resurrection: Jesus tells the women to take the announcement to Peter, singling him out among the other apostles (cf. Mark 16:7); Magdalene runs to him and to John to tell them the stone has been removed from the entrance of the sepulcher (cf. John 20:2) and John will let him go first when they arrive before the empty tomb (cf. John 20:4-6); later, Peter will be, among the apostles, the first witness of the apparition of the Risen One (cf. Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).

This role, underlined with determination (cf. John 20:3-10), marks the continuity between his pre-eminence in the group of the apostles and the pre-eminence that he will continue to have in the community born with the paschal events, as the book of the Acts of the Apostles attests (cf. 1:15-26; 2:14-40; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:1-11,29; 8:14-17; 10; etc.]. His conduct is considered so decisive that it is the object of observations and also of criticisms (cf. Acts 11:1-18; Galatians 2:11-14).

In the so-called Council of Jerusalem, Peter carries out an executive function (cf. Acts 15 and Galatians 2:1-10), and precisely by the fact of being witness of the authentic faith, Paul himself will recognize in him a "first" role (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5; Galatians 1:18; 2:7ff, etc.). Moreover, the fact that several of the key texts referring to Peter can be framed in the context of the Last Supper, in which Christ entrusts to Peter the ministry of confirming his brothers (cf. Luke 22:31ff], shows how the Church, which is born from the paschal memorial celebrated in the Eucharist, has in the ministry entrusted to Peter one of its constitutive elements.

This context of the primacy of Peter in the Last Supper, at the moment of the institution of the Eucharist, the Lord's Pasch, also indicates the ultimate meaning of this primacy: For all times, Peter must be the custodian of the communion with Christ; he must guide in the communion with Christ so that the net will not tear but sustain the great universal communion. Only together can we be with Christ, who is Lord of all. Peter's responsibility thus consists of guaranteeing the communion with Christ with the charity of Christ, guiding the realization of this charity in everyday life. Let us pray so that the primacy of Peter, entrusted to poor human beings, may always be exercised in this original sense desired by the Lord, so that it will be increasingly recognized in its true meaning by brothers who are still not in communion with us.

[At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

In our weekly catecheses on the mystery of the Church's apostolic ministry, we have been considering the figure of the Apostle Peter. The name "Peter" was given to Simon, the son of John, by Jesus himself (cf. John 1:42).

In the biblical tradition, a change of name often accompanied a new mission. Christ wished to give Peter a special place among his apostles, and from the beginning Peter often appears as their leader and spokesman.

After he proclaimed the apostles' faith in Christ as the Son of God, Jesus made Peter the Rock on which he would build his Church (cf. Matthew 16:18-19). At the Last Supper the Lord prayed for Peter, that his faith would not waver and that he would confirm his brethren in faith (cf. Luke 22:31ff).

Peter was the first of the apostles to see the Risen Lord, and he continued to exercise a pre-eminent role in the early Church, as we see in the Book of Acts. The ministry which Christ entrusted to Peter is a constitutive element of the Church, and is closely linked to the very source of her life: the Lord's paschal mystery and its memorial in the holy Eucharist.

I greet all the English-speaking visitors, especially the many pilgrims from England, Australia, India, Japan, Canada and the United States. I also greet the delegates to the World Congress of the International Federation of Kidney Foundations. Upon all present at today's audience I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Contact

The Vatican
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Pope, Benedict, Peter, Rock, Christ, Church

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.