Skip to comments.Essays for Lent: Papal Infallibility
Posted on 03/05/2012 7:52:29 PM PST by Salvation
by Sebastian R. Fama
The issue of Papal Infallibility evokes strong reactions from those who oppose it. This is usually due to a misunderstanding of what the Church means by "Papal Infallibility." The most common misconception is that the Church claims that the pope himself is infallible, that in all things he is incapable of error. This, of course, is not true!
It is a necessity of Christian theology that every person be allowed the exercise of free will. Everyone, the pope included, must be free to accept or reject Christ for himself. If God were to make the pope infallible in the ultimate sense, he would be depriving him of his free will.
Infallibility does not mean that a pope is incapable of sin. All popes are human and therefore sinners.
Infallibility does not mean that the pope is inspired. Papal infallibility does not involve any special revelation from God. A pope learns about his faith in the same way that anyone else does--he studies.
Infallibility cannot be used to change existing doctrines or proclaim new ones. It can only be used to confirm or clarify what has always been taught. The teachings of Christ cannot change. As the Scripture says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
Infallibility does not mean that a pope cannot err when he speaks as a private teacher. As a man he is fallible and capable of error.
Infallibility does not guarantee that a pope will officially teach anything. However, when he does teach he is protected. If he decides to teach the truth, the Holy Spirit allows it. If he decides to teach error, either knowingly or unknowingly, the Holy Spirit will stop him.
Infallibility is not something that endows a pope with divine powers, but rather it is a gift of the Holy Spirit that protects the Church from the human frailties of a pope.
All Christians believe that God used men infallibly in writing Scripture. Why then is it so hard to believe that He would work through men to protect it from corruption? Surely such a protection was implied when Jesus said to His disciples, "He who hears you hears me" (Luke 10:16).
The First Vatican Council taught that three conditions must be met in order for a pronouncement to be considered infallible:
1. The pope must speak ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter) in his official capacity.
2. The decision must be binding on the whole Church.
3. It must be on a matter of faith or morals.
The first two conditions can be reasonably deduced from Matthew 16:19: "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 acts of binding and loosing in the context of the verse would by necessity be something more than casual remarks. The passage begins with Jesus saying, "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church" (16:18). The acts of binding or loosing would have to be official and meant for the whole Church.
The third condition stems from the obvious fact that Christian teaching is primarily a matter of faith and morals. Christianity's main objectives have always been getting people to heaven (faith) and teaching them how to live here on earth (morals).
Infallibility is also extended to the college of bishops when they, as a body, teach something in union with the pope. Collegial authority is usually exercised in an ecumenical council just as it was at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29).
Upon leaving the earth Jesus' final command to His apostles was to make disciples of all nations, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Are we to believe that Jesus left us no means of knowing exactly what He commanded? That would make His parting statement nonsense. The Catholic Church believes the Bible when it teaches that:
1. Jesus requires that we obey all that He commanded (Matthew 28:20).
2. Jesus gives us the grace to obey all that He commanded (Philippians 4:13).
3. Jesus provides us a means of knowing what He commanded (Matthew 16:15-19).
Early Christian writers bear witness to the Church's infallibility. Cyprian declares: "If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4, 251 AD). Irenaeus writes: "Where the charismata of the Lord are given, there must we seek the truth, with those to whom belongs the ecclesiastical succession from the Apostles, and the unadulterated and incorruptible word. It is they who are the guardians of our faith and securely expound the Scriptures to us" (Against Heresies 4:26:5, 180-199 AD).
Despite the evidence, critics try to prove their case by appealing to three supposed examples of popes teaching error. The first two are Pope Liberius (352-366) and Pope Vigilius (537-555). Both were made to sign questionable statements of faith while under duress. This of course does not count, as Infallibility only applies to free acts of the pope and not to acts under torture.
The third example is that of Pope Honorius (625-638). Critics of Papal Infallibility feel that this example demolishes the doctrine once and for all. Here, they contend, is an example of a pope teaching error. After his death, an ecumenical council (The Third Council of Constantinople) condemned him. What could be more contradictory than an infallible pope being condemned by an infallible council? However, in their excitement the critics have overlooked something -- the facts.
The controversy stems from a letter that Pope Honorius wrote to Sergius, a Monothelite heretic. The Monothelite heresy maintained that Jesus had only one will, a divine will. The Church had always taught that Jesus was fully God and fully man. As such, He had both a divine and a human will. Before the heresy was widely known, Sergius sought to get the pope's approval by deception. In a letter to the pope he stated that Jesus never opposed the Father. Consequently, if two persons agree they may be spoken of as being of "one will." The pope, unaware of Sergius' deception, answered to the subject of Christ's "opposition" to the Father. He wrote in part: "We confess one will of our Lord Jesus Christ Since Christ's human will is faultless there can be no talk of opposing wills." Subsequently, Monothelites fraudulently used this statement as proof that the pope believed with them that Christ had no human will.
Pope Honorius was deceived and then misrepresented. Furthermore, the Third Council of Constantinople condemned him for inaction, but not for teaching heresy. In any event, his letter was private. Thus the issue of infallibility never even entered the picture. By the way, if papal infallibility really was just a human invention, don't you think that the list of errors after 20 centuries would fill at least one book? And yet we are presented with only three examples, three examples that are not even plausible. Does this not speak in favor of the Church's position?
Ironically, many of the individuals who oppose the doctrine of papal infallibility claim to receive special revelations from God. Most believe that they can privately interpret Scripture in direct violation of 2 Peter 1:20. They characterize the doctrine of papal infallibility as arrogant, while claiming for themselves authority that goes far beyond it. And what is the fruit of their claims? Thousands of denominations all claim the Bible as their authority and yet all disagreeing on what it teaches. To make matters worse, many of their teachings change from time to time. Those who object to the doctrine of papal infallibility are the greatest proof of its need.
An honest examination of the evidence can only lead to one conclusion: That Jesus Christ established an infallible Church. Scripture teaches it, logic demands it, and history confirms it. Copyright © 2001 StayCatholic.com
Copyright © 2001 StayCatholic.com
For Further Study
The Early Church Fathers on the Primacy of Rome (Free)
The Early Church Fathers on Peter's Presence in Rome (Free)
Books - The Gift of Infallibility by Rev. James T. O'Connor and The Primacy of the Church of Rome by Margherita Guarducci and Upon This Rock by Stephen Ray and Pope Fiction by Patrick Madrid and The Early Papacy by Adrian Fortescue
DVD - Footprints of God: Peter with Stephen Ray
**The First Vatican Council taught that three conditions must be met in order for a pronouncement to be considered infallible:
1. The pope must speak ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter) in his official capacity.
2. The decision must be binding on the whole Church.
3. It must be on a matter of faith or morals.**
“Infallibility does not mean that a pope is incapable of sin. All popes are human and therefore sinners.”
“Infallibility does not mean that the pope is inspired. Papal infallibility does not involve any special revelation from God. A pope learns about his faith in the same way that anyone else does—he studies.”
Except if you are Pope Alexander VI, then you can just get it through purchase at regular market cost.
“Infallibility cannot be used to change existing doctrines or proclaim new ones. It can only be used to confirm or clarify what has always been taught. The teachings of Christ cannot change. As the Scripture says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)”
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary are quite recent, and they are “new” dogmas that were proclaimed. They were never historically taught before. The Pope had a vision from Mary herself, also discussing the Brown Scapular as a ticket out of purgatory, provided you wear it, practice chastity, and pray the Rosary. Purgatory is another new doctrine. So is infant baptism, when the Biblical practice was baptism of a believer who was fully immersed.
The other doctrine, of course, is the one being discussed. Infallibility. The Apostles were all gifted with help of the Holy Spirit, and saw Christ Himself and in visions the doctrines of which they were to preach. Peter was not “infallible,” but was even rebuked by Paul for his mistake in following the lead of the Jewish converts who insisted on following the Jewish ritual law.
Paul, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was used as God’s messenger to blind a magician. Each of the Apostles “bound whom they will,” or received prophecy, or received divine knowledge of the hearts of others, and spoke as God directed, and led the early Christian Churches they established across the world according to God’s plan.
The “Rock” of the Church is not Peter, but the confession he gave, which is Christ. Christ is the chief cornerstone, and we are all “living” stones of that chief stone. Here are Peter’s words on the true meaning of Christ’s teachings, given by Peter as only Peter could, as it was Peter who was made a living example of Christ’s teachings:
1 Peter 2
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
According to the Dictatus Papae, the Pope is supreme. He can command princes. He can bring down emperors. The Pope cannot even be judged!: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/g7-dictpap.asp
The modern view is the moderate view. It is not the historical view. It is definitely not the Biblical view.
A lot of people confuse impeccability (lack of sin) with infalibility. They are not the same.
Popes go to confession too.
“The Rock of the Church is not Peter, but the confession he gave, which is Christ.”
Nope. According to Greek syntax it is Peter.
Vlad, you are correct, but remember, with protestants, things have to be twisted and distorted from the clear meaning, in this example......the obvious meaning of ‘rock’ is Peter...historically, it has been Peter, but that has to be done away by any and all means.....itz a shame.
They were always a part of authentic Christian faith, that were not expressed formally.
A feast of the Conception of the Most Holy and All Pure Mother of God was celebrated in Syria on 9 December perhaps as early as the 5th century. Note that the title of achrantos (spotless, immaculate, all-pure) refers to the holiness of Mary, not specifically to the holiness of her conception. By the 7th century the feast of her conception was widely celebrated in the East, under the name of the Conception (active) of Saint Anne. In the West it was known as the feast of the Conception (passive) of Mary, and was associated particularly with the Normans, whether these introduced it directly from the East or took it from English usage. The spread of the feast, by now with the adjective "Immaculate" attached to its title, met opposition on the part of some, on the grounds that sanctification was possible only after conception.
Wiki (links at source)
Although the Assumption (Latin: assūmptiō, "taken up") was only relatively recently defined as infallible dogma by the Catholic Church, and in spite of a statement by Saint Epiphanius of Salamis in AD 377 that no one knew whether Mary had died or not, apocryphal accounts of the assumption of Mary into heaven have circulated since at least the 4th century. The Catholic Church itself interprets chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation as referring to it. The earliest known narrative is the so-called Liber Requiei Mariae (The Book of Mary's Repose), which survives intact only in an Ethiopic translation. Probably composed by the 4th century, this Christian apocryphal narrative may be as early as the 3rd century. Also quite early are the very different traditions of the "Six Books" Dormition narratives. The earliest versions of this apocryphon are preserved by several Syriac manuscripts of the 5th and 6th centuries, although the text itself probably belongs to the 4th century. Later apocrypha based on these earlier texts include the De Obitu S. Dominae, attributed to St. John, a work probably from around the turn of the 6th century that is a summary of the "Six Books" narrative. The story also appears in De Transitu Virginis, a late 5th century work ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis that presents a theologically redacted summary of the traditions in the Liber Requiei Mariae. The Transitus Mariae tells the story of the apostles being transported by white clouds to the deathbed of Mary, each from the town where he was preaching at the hour. The Decretum Gelasianum in the 490s declared some transitus Mariae literature apocryphal.
St Thomas receiving the Virgin Mary's girdle An Armenian letter attributed to Dionysus the Areopagite also mentions the event, although this is a much later work, written sometime after the 6th century. John of Damascus, from this period, is the first church authority to advocate the doctrine under his own name...
Wiki (links at source)
the Pope is supreme. He can command princes. He can bring down emperors. The Pope cannot even be judged!
I surely hope so. But that is not in the meaning of infallible.
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@Apollo - Only just took a short break, so a longer answer will have to wait, but two quick points:
But yet the Pope is called Holy Father.
All priests are called Father, as they are responsible for the welfare of their flock in the same manner that a father is responsible for his family. The more usual title for the Pope is His Holiness.
The Pope cannot even be judged!
God judges us all. Popes confess too, forcing them to confront their failings, at least in their own minds. Someone once said, in a joking way, that God had to send us his Son as the way, since Heaven was still empty and Hell was getting full.
Thanks for the link the last time we talked. Some good stuff in there to ponder on. FReegards!
Holy Tradition has been alive since the before the Bible.
Tradition in the Catholic Church isn’t customs as most people think, but the Word of God handed down one person to another.
St. Paul, St. John make references to Tradition with a big T in the Bible
So post some of this word of God handed down outside of the scriptures...And of course you can't because it never existed...And that leaves your tradition as nothing more than invented customs made up by your religion...
In between lying Hit pieces on the Early Church Fathers "Webster" models clothing because He could not make it as a scholar.
VERY Weird that after his Writing on Augustine I can not find these verses.
Augustine of Hippo:
Letter 53 (A.D. 400) For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!
The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these: Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius..
Notice successor of Peter.
HE is either an Idiot or a Definite Deceiver. No way this man can be called legitimate. Anyone can gerry pick verses to make it what they want. Out of all that glop he could not put that in for a reason.
READ THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS FOR YOURSELF
The Early Church Fathers on
The Primacy of Peter/Rome
The first Christians understood that Peter and his successors held a place of primacy in the Church and exercised authority over it. They believed that a rejection of Peters authority was a rejection of Christs authority. As the Scriptures tell us, Peter and Peter alone received the keys of the kingdom with the power to bind and loose (Matthew 16:18-19).
Clement of Rome
Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret. . . . If anyone disobeys the things which have been said by him [Jesus] through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in no small danger. We, however, shall be innocent of this sin and will pray with entreaty and supplication that the Creator of all may keep unharmed the number of his elect (Letter to the Corinthians 58:2, 59:1[A.D. 95]).
Ignatius of Antioch
You [the See of Rome] have envied no one, but others have you taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force (Epistle to the Romans 3:1 [A.D. 110]).
But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles. Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition (Against Heresies 3:3:2 [A.D. 189]).
Clement of Alexandria
[T]he blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matt. 17:27], quickly grasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? “Behold, we have left all and have followed you” [Matt. 19:2 7, Mark 10:28] (Who is the Rich Man That is Saved? 21:3-5 [A.D. 200]).
[T]he Lord said to Peter, “On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven” [Matt. 16:18-19]. ... Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church; and whatever you shall have bound or you shall have loosed, not what they shall have bound or they shall have loosed (Modesty 21:9-10 [A.D. 220]).
Letter of Clement to James
Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter, the first-fruits of our Lord, the first of the apostles; to whom first the Father revealed the Son; whom the Christ, with good reason, blessed; the called, and elect (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D, 221]).
With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the Chair of Peter and to the principal church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source” (Epistle to Cornelius [Bishop of Rome] 59:14 [A.D. 252]).
The Lord says to Peter: “I say to you,” he says, “that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” . . . On him he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church? (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4 [A.D. 251]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, both the chief of the apostles and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, in the name of Christ healed Aeneas the paralytic at Lydda, which is now called Diospolis [Acts 9 ;3 2-3 4] (Catechetical Lectures 17;27 [A.D. 350]).
In the city of Rome the Episcopal chair was given first to Peter, the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head that is why he is also called Cephas of all the apostles, the one chair in which unity is maintained by all. Neither do the apostles proceed individually on their own, and anyone who would [presume to] set up another chair in opposition to that single chair would, by that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner. . . . Recall, then, the origins of your chair, those of you who wish to claim for yourselves the title of holy Church” (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [circa A.D. 367]).
Ambrose of Milan
[Christ] made answer: “You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church . . .” Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]? (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).
Among these [apostles] Peter alone almost everywhere deserved to represent the whole Church. Because of that representation of the Church, which only he bore, he deserved to hear “I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Sermons 295:2 [A.D. 411]).
Who is ignorant that the first of the apostles is the most blessed Peter? (Commentary on John 56:1 [A.D. 416]).
The Early Church Fathers on
Peters Presence in Rome
Some contend that Peter couldnt have been the bishop of Rome because he was never in Rome. This of course runs counter to the testimony of the Early Fathers and Scripture. In 1 Peter 5:12-13 Peter says: I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. Babylon is a code word for Rome and is used elsewhere in Scripture to mean the same thing. Examples can be found in Revelation 18:2, 18:10 and 18:21.
Dionysius of Corinth
You have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time (Letter to Soter of Rome [inter A.D. 166 -174] as recorded by Eusebius).
Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter (Against Heresies 3:1:1 [A.D. 189]).
But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the Churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition (ibid 3:3:2).
Let us see what milk the Corinthians drained from Paul; against what standard the Galatians were measured for correction; what the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Ephesians read; what even the nearby Romans sound forth, to whom both Peter and Paul bequeathed the Gospel and even sealed it with their blood (Against Marcion 4:5:1 [inter A.D. 207-212]).
The Apostle Peter, after he has established the Church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains bishop of that city, preaching the Gospel for twenty-five years (The Chronicle, Ad An. Dom. 42 [A.D. 303]).
When Peter preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had been for a long time his follower and who remembered his sayings, should write down what had been proclaimed. Having composed the Gospel, he gave it to those who had requested it (Ecclesiastical History 6:14:1 [A.D. 325]).
Peter of Alexandria
Peter, the first chosen of the Apostles, having been apprehended often and thrown into prison and treated with ignominy, at last was crucified in Rome (Canonical Letter, canon 9 [A.D. 306]).
When Nero was already reigning Peter came to Rome, where, in virtue of the performance of certain miracles which he worked by that power of God which had been given to him, he converted many to righteousness and established a firm and steadfast temple to God. When this fact was reported to Nero, he noticed that not only at Rome but everywhere great multitudes were daily abandoning the worship of idols, and, condemning their old ways, were going over to the new religion. Being that he was a detestable and pernicious tyrant, he sprang to the task of tearing down the heavenly temple and of destroying righteousness. It was he that first persecuted the servants of God. Peter, he fixed to a cross; and Paul, he slew (The Deaths of the Persecutors 2:5 [inter A.D. 316-320]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
[Simon Magus] so deceived the City of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him, and wrote beneath it in the language of the Romans Simoni Deo Sancto, which is translated To the Holy God Simon. While the error was extending itself Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church; and they set the error aright for Peter was there, he that carries about the keys of heaven (Catechetical Lectures 6:14 [A.D. 350]).
The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it. The second see, however, is that at Alexandria, consecrated in behalf of blessed Peter by Mark, his disciple and an evangelist, who was sent to Egypt by the Apostle Peter, where he preached the word of truth and finished his glorious martyrdom. The third honorable see, indeed, is that at Antioch, which belonged to the most blessed Apostle Peter, where first he dwelt before he came to Rome, and where the name Christians was first applied, as to a new people (The Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).
As usual you are spot on, but it was more than just syntax. It was the context and content in which He used the syntax of the Rock. The Gospels tell us exactly how and why Jesus determined that His Church would be lead by a Pope as chosen His form of Church governance and that the first Pope was Peter.
God has always chosen a single man to guide His Church and He has guided and protected that person through public and private Revelation. This was true of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Solomon, David and the many judges, kings and prophets that followed. It would be true of His Church too.
In His revelation Jesus specifically discussed the three possible forms of Church governance; the Democratic form, the Oligarchical form, and the Theocratic form before revealing His choice.
In this dialog Jesus asks His Disciples; "Who do the people say that I am?" (Matt 16:16). This was the Democratic option. He got answers varying from Elijah, to John the Baptist, to "One of the Prophets", but no clear, unambiguous or truthful answer. He then asked His Apostles; "Who do you say that I am?". This was the oligarchical form. None responded. These two forms were unambiguously rejected.
Then Peter stepped forward and without consulting the others said; "You are the Christ, the son of the living God.". In response to this Jesus revealed the basis and governance of His Church when He said:
Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. (Matt 16:17-19)