The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter also falls on this Sunday, an important liturgical event which underscores the ministry of the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. The Chair of Peter symbolizes the authority of the Bishop of Rome, called to accomplish a peculiar service for the whole People of God. Soon after the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul, the primatial role of the Church of Rome is in fact recognized in the entire Catholic community, a role already recognized in the Second Century by Saint Ignatius of Antioch (Ad Rom., Pref.: Funk, I, 252) and by Saint Irenaeus of Lyon (Ad Haer.III, 3,2-3).This singular and particular ministry of the Bishop of Rome was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council: "Within the Church particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity (cfr. S. Ign. Ant., Ad Rom., Pref.) and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it." (Lumen gentium, 13).Dear brothers and sisters, this feast grants me the opportunity to ask you to join me with your prayers, so that I may faithfully accomplish the high responsibility which Divine Providence entrusted me as Successor of the Apostle Peter....[From the greeting to the German-speaking pilgrims:] Let us ask Saint Peter for his intercession so that the bewilderment and the storms do not shake the Church, that we remain faithful to a genuine Faith, keep unity, and live together in charity.
February 22, 2009