Jesus says in today’s Gospel “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
The homilist tells us that this is one of the most important text that differentiates us from our separated brethren in the Protestant churches.
For Catholics, its clear that Jesus hands authority to Peter to lead his church. This is further confirmed after the resurrection when Jesus says again to Peter “Feed my lambs”.
This is why we trace the lineage of popes back to St. Peter. However some others believe that “this rock” is Jesus himself, or that it is “the faith in Jesus that he is the Christ”.
And hence, while we have many Christians who believe in Sola Scriptura. Its is thus still split with the fact of human interpretation and differences which is why we now have thousands of denominations of Christianity.
We are also often criticised about the idea of Papal infallibility. But this idea does not cover all the personal actions of the Popes throughout the ages. It is a known fact that many of them in medieval times have abused their authority and positions. The infallibility concept only covers certain dogmas, and was ever only invoked twice since 1870. It was used to declare Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Assumption into heaven.
So going back to the idea of the authority of St Peter as our first Pope, and all his successors, who carried the Church forward through all the trials and tribulations throughout the ages into the current millennium. I would suggest that this requires faith in Jesus who appointed St Peter to be the vicar of His Church and promised His divine assistance.