Archbishop Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, Spain, reminded Catholics this week that the Pope is “the beginning and the visible foundation of ecclesial unity, and he called for prayers for Benedict XVI on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
In an article entitled, “You Are Peter,” the archbishop reflected on the apostle Peter and on how “he left his family and his boat” for Christ.
“Peter was one of the first disciples of Jesus and one of the favorites. We always find him at the Lord’s side and as the spokesman of the twelve. Peter appears in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles as an outstanding figure among of the apostles, through the personal choice and decision of Jesus,” he said.
“The name of Peter which Jesus gave to Simon means rock,” the archbishop continued, “a word which the Bible applies to God and to Christ respectively.” “The role of primacy of Peter and his successors is of utmost importance for the Catholic Church, spread from East to West. It constitutes a very valuable service for the entire Church and for each one of the diocesan churches. The ministry of the successor of Peter is not something external to each diocese; it belongs to the internal life of each particular church as an essential condition without which there would not be a truly Catholic Church.”
“The Pope, as Peter, confirms his brethren in the faith,” Archbishop Martinez stressed. “During twenty centuries, the petrine ministry has made the promise of Jesus effective, even during the darkest periods of the history of Rome and of the papacy. The words of St. Ambrose resound: ‘Where Peter is, there is the Church.’ According to Newman, the Anglican who converted to Catholicism and whose cause for beatification is being processed, by uniting with the Pope, Christians rest in Catholic fullness,” he said.
Archbishop Martinez continued: “Benedict XVI is the successor of Peter who exercises this service for the good of the entire Church. With his magisterium and his clear and paternal guide he confirms in the faith the pastors and faithful of the entire People of God. He has done so for more than two years since the beginning of his ministry,” he added.
“We must thank God for this valuable service of Peter and his successors, and specifically, for that of Benedict XVI, and we must pray that the Lord will help and comfort him. We need to always do this, but especially on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul,” he said in conclusion.