From the human point of view God does the most unlikely things. Who would have expected Him to visit the earth, but He did. Who would have expected Him to be born in a stable, but He did. Who would have expected Him to die on a cross, but He did. And when He decided to find a leader for His Church, who would have expected Him to choose Peter, but He did.
This goes to show that God’s ways are not our ways. This is especially so in His choice of leaders. Take the case of Moses for instance: Moses the man who strangled an Egyptian with his bare hands was chosen to be the spokesperson for the Jewish people. Take David the great King: seven sons of Jesse, all tall, handsome, and strong, but none of these were chosen; they had to summon the young shepherd boy, David, to be anointed King; and all this when God knew he was going to be a murderer and an adulterer later in his life.
So it is with Peter. Jesus said to Peter: “Blest are you, Simon son of John… I for my part declare to you, you are ‘Rock’ and on this rock I will build my Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it. I will entrust to you the Keys of the kingdom of heaven…” There is no doubt about it, Peter was chosen to lead. He was chosen first Pope of the Church.
To none of the other Apostles did Christ entrust the keys of the kingdom of heaven. In the ancient world the keys of a kingdom were given by a king to the person who would govern in the name of that king. So it is in the kingdom of heaven. The keys of the kingdom of heaven were given to Peter, our first Pope, and to his successors, the Popes throughout the centuries.
That is why we as Catholics believe that Christ gave a special role to Peter among the twelve Apostles, with a view to the unity of the Apostolic Church, and that, by Christ’s will and intention, this “petrine ministry” is a permanent element in the Church’s structure for the sake of the unity of the whole Church. It is based on the Gospels, the very word of God. Just as other Christian churches accept it as Christ’s will that the local congregation in each area have a visible center of unity in the person of the successor of Peter, the Pope.
Do not let others tell you any different. Let the scriptures speak for themselves. The Pope is indeed the visible center for the universal Christian church. He is appointed by the Lord who still “entrusts to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”