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Now, clearly Christ knew that Peter would not live until the end of time, so he must have intended that the power he gave to Peter would be carried on until His return.
After all, Peter was to feed "my" (Christ's) sheep, and so was serving as the vicar of Christ in Christ's absence.
Feed my sheep", and "I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail.
You in turn must confirm your brethren", have always been taken to refer to a special role for Peter in the establishment of the Church, and special divine protection for Peter in the exercise of his authority. From the earliest times we see the bishops of Rome acting as if they had special authority in succession from St.
When Peter died, a new vicar would take his place, and so on, until Christ returned to claim his own.
The parable of the steward awaiting his Master's return is very much to the point.
The argument runs as follows: It is clear even from Scripture that Peter had a special commission and special powers from Christ to care for the flock of Christ, to bind and loose, and to confirm his brothers in faith -- indeed he had the very powers of the keys to the Kingdom.
During the first few hundred years of Church history, moreover, many who were accused of heresy appealed from every corner of the known world to Rome for vindication or condemnation.
The Fathers too repeatedly attest to the authority of the Roman See. But the first Christians under the New Covenant had a living and infallible guide to the truth in Christ himself.
Therefore, again, Christ must have intended successors to Peter.
For this reason, we are not at all surprised that subsequent popes claimed to have the Petrine power and that the early Christian community accepted it without question.
Peter, and we also see the rest of the Church accepting their authority as if they knew it was genuine.