According to an answer to this question When did Peter become the first Pope, according to Roman Catholic doctrine?, the Pope is the bishop of Rome.

So this made me wonder - since Peter was ordained an Apostle (not bishop of Rome) and he is considered the first Pope - are bishops equal in authority with apostles according to Roman Catholic tradition?

I understand what apostolic succession is, but it doesn't seem clear from this that it's the actual apostolic authority or just a part of it handed down to the bishops from the original apostles.

1 Answer 1


Bishops (from the Greek, epi-scopus = overseers) are the successors of the Apostles. Their primary responsibility is shepherding the faith of the people in their diocese. They ordain priests, perform the sacrament of confirmation on the faithful, and serve to teach, provide guidance and support for the faithful. So in that sense, they indeed have the authority of the Apostles. However, a tenet of the Catholic Church is that public revelation ceased with the death of the last apostle.

The Christian dispensation, therefore, as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away and we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ

Vatican II, Dei Verbum 4

Only apostles had firsthand knowledge of the teachings of Jesus. Therefore, no Bishop can add to public revelation. They may explain or further develop the implications of sacred revelation, whether by Scripture or the sacred Tradition of the Apostles.

  • Is public revelation = revelation to the church, meaning doctrine and commandments for the church?
    – kutschkem
    Nov 11, 2014 at 13:43
  • Public revelation (aka divine revelation): beliefs revealed to the apostles, which all members are bound to hold. Private revelation = heavenly messages or Marian apparitions that have been designated "worthy of belief" by the Church, and which a given member of the faithful is not bound to hold.
    – Firstrock
    Nov 25, 2014 at 21:15

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