Today is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. What we particularly celebrate today is what those two did for Christianity in faithfully handing the teaching of Christ on to us. Paul brought that teaching down to earth by carefully mapping the way it applied to human situations. But for all his mastery of the Christian message he acknowledged the superior role of St. Peter.
Yesterday, in honoring St. Irenaeus, we credited him with insisting that the authenticity of Christian teachings can be established by demonstrating that it is in accord with what Peer and Paul taught when they came to Rome. Let me quote a short paragraph from “Irenaeus Against the Heresies.”
“It is in the power of all to contemplate clearly with the tradition of the Apostles manifested throughout the world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the Apostles instituted bishops in the churches, to demonstrate the succession of these men. . . Since, however, it would be very tedious to reckon up the succession of all the churches we will indicate that tradition derived from the apostles of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul. It is a matter of necessity that every church should agree with this church.”