by Andrew P. Napolitano
When Jesus established the papacy, the gospels report that he told St. Peter: “Amen I say to you: You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” These words are emblazoned in Latin across the front of St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s successors have incorporated his name to describe their work, the Petrine ministry, and refer to themselves as Papa Petrus.
But the Petrine ministry is more than work. And being Papa Petrus is not a job; it is a calling in which a man has been chosen by the direct descendants of the 12 apostles as agents of God to be the Vicar of Christ on Earth. One becomes the pope not as one becomes the president, but as one becomes a Catholic priest or the father of a child. The papacy, like ordination and fatherhood, is a life-changing and irreversible imprint – and hence, my sadness at the abdication of Benedict XVI. It shook my soul to the core.