After that, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They said, “For some of them, you are John the Baptist; for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”
Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
And now I say to you: You are Peter; and on this Rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”
Probably most Catholics at some time in their lives suffer from the way they are treated by the pastoral leadership of the Church as embodied in the Pope or in the Church Councils. For example, when Pope John XXIII decided that the Church needed a breath of fresh air and introduced various changes in the Church (no more Masses in Latin, no more celebrants turning their backs to the faithful, etc.), some conservative Catholics felt cheated of the aura of “the good old days.” But other Catholics, the more liberal ones, felt that the reforms launched by the Holy See were not sweeping enough, were too timid.
Yet, what is the alternative to an imperfect leadership? No leadership at all, like in the Protestant Churches? But these are divided into some 42,000 denominations! Why? Because they have no strong central government as we do. At least the Catholic Church of the 21st century is a cohesive body of some one billion two hundred million members united under the Bishop of Rome, whose uninterrupted line of succession of more than 260 individual Popes connects us directly to the apostle Peter himself. That alone should convince non-Catholics that the leadership of the Catholic Church is a great strength of that Church, one she should be deeply grateful for.
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