Jesus went up the mountain, prayed all night long in communion with God, and, as the sun rose, chose the twelve who were to be His apostles (Lk 6:12-13). By this grand and dramatic setting, Luke indicates that the apostles were very important in God's plan. In fact, the Church is founded on them (Eph 2:20; Rv 21:14).
The early Church believed that the apostles were to have successors. Through the bishops of the Church (cf Acts 1:20-22), the apostolic ministry would continue as an essential part of the order of the Church and of God's plan of salvation. Apostolic succession was an almost universally accepted belief of the Church for 1,500 years up to the time following the Protestant Reformation. The splintering of the Church into thousands of denominations and the weakening of the Church through the Enlightenment and secular humanism has certainly not confirmed the denial by some Protestants of apostolic succession. Today we have even more reason to believe that the apostolic ministry continues through the bishops of the Church.
This means that bishops are important, and that it is vitally important for us to know and submit to their teachings. The truth of apostolic succession also indicates that the Pope, as the bishop of all bishops, is very important. By obeying the Pope and the bishops, we will know the truth which will set us free (Jn 8:32), be united as members of Christ's body, and truly build the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Imprimatur ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008.
†Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 1, 2008.