First of all … there’s absolutely no doubt about the fact that St. Peter was the leader of the Church,
and that he was the unanimous choice of both Jesus and his Father:
Mat 16:15 Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?
Mat 16:16 Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood
hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
This was followed immediately by the following divine promise, which in terms of absolute power and authority, is unprecedented in power and scope … even when compared to the Old Testament promises that God made
to Abraham, Israel, Moses, and others:
Mat 16:18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this Rock I will build my church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven:
and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
The simple fact is … when God himself promises you the “Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven”
and he backs it up with the his personal assurance that he will back whatever decisions
you make, even so far as translating your earthly decisions into heavenly laws …
that’s about as INFALLIBLE as ANYONE can ever get!
This doesn’t mean everything the Pope says is without error,
or that the Pope is incapable of error, or sin.
It does mean that when the Pope sees a need, as the leader of the whole Church,
to make a definitive statement regarding faith and/or morals,
he can invoke this divine mandate, and speak his mind,
knowing that even if he is WRONG, God will keep up his end of the deal,
and somehow make it right!
In actual practice, throughout the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church,
the Pope has invoked this power of infallibility twice … or only about once every thousand years.And for the die hard critics out there … this power is nothing new.
Even the corrupt high priest Caiphus,
who convicted Jesus of blasphemy and sent him to Pilate, to be sentenced to death,
had the official power and the absolute right to speak infallibly … and he did.
Infallibility … the divine power to prophesy, if you will … has been with us for a long, long time.
Virtually all the Old Testament prophets and priests had it,
so why shouldn’t the God-appointed leader
of the grace empowered New Covenant Christian Church have it … even more?
The third time Jesus appeared to the apostles after the resurrection,
Jesus personally presided at St. Peter’s official “swearing-in” ceremony.
Note the triple scrutiny (3rd appearance of Christ, 3 affirmations of Peter’s faith and love, 3 divine commands):
Joh 21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to his disciples, after he was risen from the dead.
Joh 21:15 When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these?
He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs.
Joh 21:16 He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs.
Joh 21:17 He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee.
He said to him: Feed my sheep.
And just so there wouldn’t be any misconceptions about “power and glory” this time, Jesus immediately explained to St. Peter that the only earthly reward Peter would ultimately receive
would be imprisonment and death:
Joh 21:18 Amen, amen, I say to thee, When thou wast younger, thou didst gird thyself and didst walk where thou wouldst.
But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands,
and another shall gird thee and lead thee whither thou wouldst not.
Joh 21:19 And this he said, signifying by what death he should glorify God.
And when he had said this, he saith to him: Follow me.
All of this was done in light of the eternal nature
of the one, holy, apostolic, and Catholic Church that Jesus founded,
for the express purpose of our salvation, that would endure until the end of time:
Mat 28:16 And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
Mat 28:17 And seeing him they adored: but some doubted.
Mat 28:18 And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.
A Church that would last until the end of time would no doubt need to have
an enduring structure, along with Spirit anointed leadership and government.
The hierarchical government of the Catholic Church
is based on what we know of the hierarchical structure of Heaven:
Act 20:28 Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops,
to rule the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Act 20:29 I know that after my departure ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Act 20:30 And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.