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The Keys to the Kingdom

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. We acknowledge and praise God for the teaching authority of the Magisterium. Beginning with St. Peter, each successive Pope, guided by the Holy Spirit, has carried the mantle of this authority. Some have carried it better than others. Each has been burdened with his own set of human frailties.

The office of Pope is not just a titular role to lead the rites and ceremonies of the Vatican. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He is the shepherd of the Church. I am not sure that many of us are paying attention to his voice.

We hear sound bites from the mainstream media when the Pope comments on a controversial topic and his words are deemed newsworthy. But our Popes have given us a treasure trove of teaching of which too many Catholics are ignorant. Did you know the Pope offers weekly teachings in his Angelus Address and his General Audience discourse? The Pope speaks to the entire Church, not just to the clergy or learned catechists in academia. The General Audiences, the Angelus Addresses, the Encyclicals, Pastoral Letters and other teaching documents are all available on the Vatican web site. Just look under papal archives.

Pope Benedict XVI is a gifted teacher and I find his writing especially instructive. His first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, can be read over and over with each reading offering new insights.

Now if you are reading Catholic blogs, you have already made at least some commitment to keep yourself abreast of Catholic news and Catholic teaching. Unfortunately, you are in the minority of those sitting in Catholic pews. Our priests need to be referencing these teachings as they speak from the pulpit. Every parish web site should carry a link to the Vatican. Every diocesan newspaper should print at least a summary of one of the papal weekly addresses. We are Roman Catholics. Today as we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, let us renew our efforts to stay connected to the one who holds the "keys to the Kingdom".


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