The Pope and the Papacy: Questions and Answers
In the aftermath of Pope John Paul II's death, Beliefnet responds to readers' questions about the leader of the Catholic Church.
Questions About Pope John Paul II & the Papacy
Questions About Choosing a New Pope
Questions About the Catholic Church
Questions About the Future of the Catholic Church
Who is the pope in the minds of Catholics and what scriptural basis is there for his role? What is his relation to Peter and what role does he play in God's plan?
The pope is the Catholic bishop of Rome, and Catholics believe that they can trace a clear line of succession from John Paul II all the way back to the apostle Peter, who they believe was the first bishop of Rome. Catholics believe that Peter enjoyed primacy among the apostles, because Jesus said to him, "You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build by church...I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:18-19).