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Wikipedia says:

In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle.
cf. Pope | Wikipedia

As someone who isn't Catholic I don't want to argue how true this is or how significant this is.

What I'm interested to know is there an office/title/person in the Catholic church for any of the other 11 Apostles (12 if you include Paul), or is it just Saint Peter because he was the leader of the apostles?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The other apostles are associated with other Churches. St Mark, for example, was the founder of the Church of Alexandria; St Thomas is believed to have taken Christianity to India; and so on. Only St John the Evangelist did not die a martyr in a far-off place (at least, Patmos isn't as far as India).

Accordingly, most of the other apostles do not have such a place as Peter's within the Roman Church, but they do have a similar position as Patriarchs of the Churches they founded.

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Is Patriarch an office that is passed to someone else like the Pope, or is it just someone the church remembers as their founder? –  Greg Jan 3 '13 at 23:11
Yes: a Patriarch is the head of a major part of the Catholic/Orthodox Church. The Coptic Pope is a Patriarch; there are Patriarchs in the East (and the Ecumenical Patriarch) and the Pope is the Patriarch of the Western Church, even if he doesn't call himself that at the moment. –  Andrew Leach Jan 3 '13 at 23:14
I think the notion that the other apostles don't hold a position of importance in the Catholic Church is not accurate. Apostolic succession is about all of the apostles. Which of the 12 is the head is another matter. So is the possibility that local churches answered to their local bishops before or instead of the bishop of Rome. –  svidgen Jan 4 '13 at 0:47
@svidgen Actually, apostolic succession means something completely different, as you have detailed in your answer. The question isn't about apostolic succession; it's "What about the other apostles -- Peter is Pope, where are the others?" The question title may have to be adjusted to remove the technical term. –  Andrew Leach Jan 4 '13 at 9:10
@Andrew Yes, he's conflating concepts. All I mean to point out in your answer is that it gives the impression that the Catholic (and possibly Orthodox) Church isn't concerned with the other apostles, which is not accurate, though we don't hold a single specific office for each of the 12. –  svidgen Jan 4 '13 at 14:02

Apostolic succession applies to all successors of the original 12 apostles. Every modern day bishop and priest (including the Pope) has been ordained by Bishops, creating an unbroken lineage all the way back to the original 12.

This wikipedia section has it right, as far as I've read.

In Roman Catholic theology, the doctrine of apostolic succession states that Christ gave the full sacramental authority of the Church to the Twelve Apostles in the sacrament of Holy Orders, making them the first bishops. By conferring the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders on the apostles, they were given the authority to confer the sacrament of Holy Orders on others, thus consecrating more bishops in a direct lineage that can trace its origin back to the Twelve Apostles and Christ. This direct succession of bishops from the apostles to the present day bishops is referred to as apostolic succession.

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_succession#Catholic_Church

And as it states, Papal Primacy, which is what you're hinting at, is a different but related matter.

The primacy of the Bishop of Rome is an ecclesiastical doctrine concerning the respect and authority that is due to the Bishop of Rome from other bishops and their sees.

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_primacy

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