Whatever you
will bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth
will be loosed in heaven, the Lord said to Simon Peter.

O God, Who having given
Peter, Thy Apostle, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, did bestow on him the
pontifical power of binding and loosing; grant that by the help of intercession
we may be delivered from the bonds of our sins.

On this feast in 2009, Pope Benedict taught the following in an audience:

chair st peter.jpg

“This Sunday is also the
feast of the Chair of Peter, an important liturgical feast that highlights the
office of the successor of the Prince of the Apostles. The chair of Peter
symbolizes the authority of the Bishop of Rome, who is called to perform a
special service for the whole People of God. Immediately after the martyrdom of
Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the primacy of the Church of Rome in the Catholic
community was recognized. This role was already attested to in the 2nd century
by Saint Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to the Romans, Pref.: Funk, I, 252) and by
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (Contra Haereses, III, 3, 2-3). This singular and
specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was stressed again by the Second
Vatican Council. “Moreover, within the Church,” we read in the
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “particular Churches hold a rightful
place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing
the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of
charity (cf. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, Pref.) and protects
legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do
not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it” (Lumen Gentium, 13).

Pope Benedict XVI,

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, 22 February 2009

Church celebrates today, since the 4th century, the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle. The
Church does not worship church furnishings but the office that was given to the
Apostle Peter by the Lord Himself. This chair, then, is the key to unity among
Christians. Hence, it is not just a chair, but a throne or cathedra, i.e., a
seat of pastoral authority. It is not an authority for temporal affairs or political engagement. It is about preaching, teaching and sanctifying God’s people. These three functions are to lead others to heaven —communio with the Blessed Trinity.

For what purpose does the Church have a feast called the “Chair
of Saint Peter” and how is it connected with unity among Christians? Saint
Cyprian, Carthage’s bishop (d. 258), tells us,

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I
say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my
Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the
keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever things you bind on earth shall be
bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed
also in heaven.’ And again He says to him after His resurrection: ‘Feed my
sheep.’ On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed
the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He
founded a single chair, 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; but a primacy is given to Peter whereby it is made clear that there is but
one Church and one chair
. So too, all 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 desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be
confident that he is in the Church?

“There is one God and one
Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on Peter
by the word of the Lord.
It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another
besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered
elsewhere is scattering

Saint Cyprian is very clear that Christ founded
upon Saint Peter the visible basis of the unity of the Church.  Peter does not replace Christ as the
head of the Church. In theological terms this feast notes, observes and
otherwise holds up a primacy given by the Lord to Saint Peter to ensure and preserve
her unity. Saint Cyprian argues:

“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,
in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these
are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it
is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.”

For Saint Cyprian, the unity of the bishops and priests has its source (not only as a
past event but as a living, thriving principle) in the Chair of Saint Peter.

Last year’s blog post may also have some relevant info…