El Papa, ¿vicario de Cristo o vicario de Pedro?, Fernando Bermúdez López

Acabamos  de recibir en España al Papa Benedicto XVI con motivo de la Jornada Mundial de la Juventud. Con frecuencia hemos escuchado que el Papa es el Vicario de Cristo, Sumo Pontífice, Cabeza de la Iglesia, el Santo Padre, el Jefe del Estado Vaticano…

Para aclararnos un poco hay que señalar que la sucesión apostólica corresponde a la comunidad eclesial que es fiel al mensaje de Jesús que nos dejaron los apóstoles. Y precisamente, porque la comunidad es apostólica, el obispo que la preside es apostólico y sucesor de los apóstoles (J.Mª Castillo). La sucesión apostólica es una cadena ininterrumpida que, desde los apóstoles, a través de la comunidad cristiana con sus obispos, transmite hasta el día de hoy el mensaje del Evangelio del reino de Dios proclamado por Jesús. Desde el primer momento, los obispos fueron considerados los sucesores de la misión de los apóstoles, responsables de acompañar a las comunidades cristianas.

A partir del siglo II el obispo de Roma (a quien todavía no se le llamaba Papa) adquiere una misión especial sobre toda la Iglesia por ser sucesor de Pedro. Así lo reconocieron las comunidades de la iglesia primitiva. San Ignacio de Antioquía afirmaba que “el obispo de Roma es quien preside la caridad”, es decir, la unidad de toda la Iglesia.

Al obispo de Roma no se le llamaba “Vicario de Cristo”, porque este título corresponde a toda la Iglesia, que es la representante de Cristo y continuadora de su misión en la historia. Más aún, San Basilio (uno de los santos Padres del s. IV) proclamaba que el pobre es “vicario de Cristo”, porque lo que se haga con él con el mismo Cristo se hace.  Al obispo de Roma se le consideraba “Vicarius Petri”, vicario de Pedro, representante de Pedro, sucesor de Pedro.

Los creyentes confesaban, asimismo, que la cabeza de la Iglesia no es el obispo de Roma sino Cristo, como señala san Pablo (Col 1,18; 2,19; Ef 1,27). Todos los cristianos, desde el papa al último bautizado, son miembros del cuerpo de Cristo que es la Iglesia.

El obispo de Roma, como sucesor de Pedro y vicario suyo en esta comunidad, tiene la primacía de la Iglesia, atestiguada en los escritos del Nuevo Testamento y en la Tradición. Muerto Pedro, la comunidad elige a Lino como sucesor, quien es mencionado en la primera carta a Timoteo (4,21). También Lino fue víctima de las persecuciones del imperio romano. Entonces la comunidad elige a Anacleto y, martirizado éste también, la comunidad elige a Clemente, quien fue discípulo de Pedro y Pablo. Hacia el año 96, Clemente escribe una carta a la comunidad de Corinto que atravesaba por una crisis debido a divisiones internas, exhortándole a la unidad. Esta fue la misión del obispo de Roma: velar por la unidad de la Iglesia.

En el siglo III, y sobre todo en el IV, sobresalen seis sedes episcopales como las más importantes en la Iglesia. Éstas son: Jerusalén, Roma, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Alejandría y Cartago, reconociéndose al obispo de Roma como el Primus inter pares, es decir, “el primero entre iguales”. Posteriormente, en el año 384, en la era constantiniana, el obispo de Roma, Siriaco, actúa ya como obispo universal, quien asumió el título de PAPA, iniciales de Petri Apostoli Potestatem Accepit, lo que equivale a decir que el obispo de Roma es el sucesor y vicario de Pedro, el humilde pescador galileo, que pasó sus últimos años acompañando a los cristianos de Roma en los tiempos duros de la persecución imperial.

En el siglo IV, con el emperador Constantino, el obispo de Roma fue elevado a la categoría de Sumo Pontífice. Lo cual entra en contradicción con la doctrina de san Pablo que dice que Cristo es el único Sumo Pontífice que tenemos, pues es él quien hace de puente, uniendo a los hombres con Dios.

En la era constantiniana se entabló una alianza del Papado con el poder imperial. Y posteriormente, en la Edad Media, con la creación de los Estados Pontificios y del Estado Vaticano, el Papa es constituido Jefe de Estado, ante quien se postraban reyes y emperadores para ser coronados por él. Lo cual llevó a que San Bernardo, fundador de los monjes cistercienses, dijera que más parece el Papa ser sucesor de Constantino que de Pedro.

En la época de las colonizaciones europeas el Papa asume la potestad de conceder a los reyes católicos las tierra conquistadas, nombrándolos dueños y señores de ellas con sus habitantes incluidos (Bula Inter Coetera. Alejando VI, año 1493), e incluso se arroga la autoridad apostólica de autorizar la invasión de las tierras de infieles (en el norte de África), subyugándolos y reduciéndolos a perpetua servidumbre (Divino Amore Communiti. Nicolás V, año 1452). Hoy día se han superado muchos aspectos del pasado, pero todavía, cuando el Papa visita cualquier país, es recibido como Jefe de Estado.

¿No habrá llegado ya la hora de que el Papa vuelva a ser un humilde servidor de la comunidad, libre de poderes y de privilegios, hermano mayor entre hermanos, lazo de unidad entre las distintas iglesias, mensajero de la paz, defensor de los pobres y excluidos, testimonio profético de sencillez, de fraternidad y de diálogo al interior de la Iglesia y con las distintas confesiones religiosas? De esta manera será, no de palabra sino en la práctica, un verdadero “siervo de los siervos de Dios” como lo fue Pedro, de quien es vicario.

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