Catholic Christians believe that the Bible reveals an order--a hierarchy--among the faithful people to whom Paul commits the role of truth handling: episcopoi (bishops) over presbyteroi (priests, elders) and diaconoi (deacons).
The Bible reveals that the Apostles took the role of episcopoi. Christ and the Evangelists revealed a primary role among the Apostles in the person of Peter or Kephas.
The Catholic Church from Apostolic times believed that Peter ("Rock") is the foundation for the Church of Christ as revealed in Matthew 16.
The Catholic Church believes that there were successors to Peter at the See of Rome as bishops. Successors to Peter are listed by historians from the third century down to our own day. As Bishops of Rome they share the primacy and authority given to Peter by Christ.
First to Peter and then to the other Apostles--and to their successors--Jesus conferred a charism of handling truth with authority. That authority is known as the charism of infallibility.
A recent example of the exercise of that charism in the Church--its teaching authority--can be found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
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Last Updated: April 20, 2005