Most of us feel that the reason for Jesus three times asking Peter if he loved him was that Peter had three times denied knowing him.
What we should notice about the way he asked him is the formal way he put the question: “Simon, son of John.” “Simon, son of John.” “Simon son of John.”
That was putting the words in the form of a formal oath. This ceremony came as the full enactment of the intention Jesus stated at Caesarea Philippi when he said, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”
St. Peter was put to death by Nero in 67 A.D., and since this passage from the Gospel according to John wasn’t written until twenty years later we can rightly assume that the office given to Peter was handed on to his successors. The bishops of Rome are the leaders of the Church Jesus built.
That does not mean we must approve every move the pope makes. St. Paul shows us that at times we might try to straighten out the Holy Father. He gives us an instance of that in Chapter Two of his Letter to the Galatians.
Jesus had done away with the need for his followers to observe the rules of kosher. St. Mark told us that in 7:19 of his Gospel where he wrote, “He declared all foods clean.” According to that, Paul felt he was obliged to sit with Gentiles sharing in food that he had long considered unkosher. St. Peter too, when he visited with Paul sat and ate with Gentiles; but when conservative Jewish people came up from Jerusalem Peter stopped sitting down with Gentiles.
Referring to Peter’s changed behavior, Paul wrote, “I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.”
Likewise, it is possible for good Catholics today to have opinions different from the Holy Fathers.