(AsiaNews) – In the day in which the Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter (22 February), Benedict XVI spoke to the pilgrims who had gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus, asking them to “accompany me with your prayers so that I may faithfully accomplish the high task Divine Providence has placed upon me as Successor to the Apostle Peter.”
“The Chair of Peter,” the Pontiff explained, “symbolises the authority of the Bishop of Rome, [who is] called to fulfil a special service for the People of God as a whole. Right after the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul the Church of Rome was acknowledged a primatial role in the whole Catholic community, a role attested as early as the 2nd century by Saint Ignatius of Antioch (Ad. Rom, praef. Funk, I, 252) and Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (Against Heresies III, 3, 2-3).”
This unique and specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was reiterated in the Second Vatican Council. “[W]ithin the Church,” says the Dogmatic Constitution of 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 (cf S. Ignatius M., Ad Rom., Praef.: Ed. Funk, I, p. 252),) 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).