“All with Peter”: St. Josemaria Escriva’s Love for the Roman Pontiff
“Christ. Mary. The Pope. Haven’t we just indicated, in three words, the loves that make up the entire Catholic faith?”  This statement, written down by St. Josemaria Escriva in 1934, stems from his deep conviction that we need to “love tenderly the Pope, il dolce Cristo in terra as St. Catherine of Siena . . . liked to repeat,”  and that this love is an important part of our relationship with Christ and his Church. He never ceased insisting that we have to love the Pope whomever he may be: omnes cum Petro (all with Peter). That love—truly theological—is based on the certainty that he is, by God’s will, the Vicar of Christ, the “visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion.” 
During his years as the head of the Prelature of Opus Dei, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo—in continuity with and absolute fidelity to St. Josemaria—also insisted on this truth. In 1988, for example, he said that “remaining united to the Pope is the only way to be faithful to Our Lord’s words, who assured us: super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam. It is Christ who builds up the Church—and we with him—through the Holy Spirit, but on the foundation that he himself has placed. The only path for us is to act always cum Petro et sub Petro, in union with the Pope and subject to his authority.” 
This conviction of our faith leads the Catholic faithful to express their love for the Roman Pontiff in specific signs of affection. In the first place, by praying each day for him and for his intentions. We have many opportunities to do so: for example, during Holy Mass—the sacrifice most pleasing to God—we pray explicitly for the Holy Father. News we receive about the Church can also be the occasion for being united with Peter. Everyone in the Church can and should help the Roman Pontiff to carry the weight of his ministry. As St. Josemaria said: “You must love, venerate, pray, and mortify yourself for the Pope, and do so with greater affection each day. For he is the foundation stone of the Church and, throughout the centuries, right to the end of time, he carries out among men that task of sanctifying and governing which Jesus entrusted to Peter.” 
At the same time, our union with the Pope leads us to welcome his teachings and indications with a generous openness and availability. “Faithfulness to the Pope includes a clear and definite duty: that of knowing his thought, which he tells us in encyclicals or other documents. We have to do our part to help all Catholics pay attention to the teaching of the Holy Father, and bring their everyday behavior into line with it.”  A good son or daughter of the Church wants to be informed about the Pope’s teachings. Luckily, present-day means of communication enable us to easily access his words. By knowing them well we will have many opportunities for apostolate, and by echoing the Pope in our own environment (even among those who may be far from the Faith) we can help many people to take a greater interest in his teachings. Our Lord will make use of this effort of ours to lead many men and women to rediscover the beauty of the Church.
Article adapted from Romana, no. 56, Omnes cum Petro.
 St. Josemaria, Instruction, March 19, 1934, no. 31. Cited, for example, in Conversaciones, Edición crítico-histórica, p. 260, note 46a.
 St. Josemaria, In Love with the Church, no. 11.
 Vatican II, Dogmatic const. Lumen Gentium, no. 18.
 Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, Homily, May 2, 1988, cited in Romana, no. 4 (1988), p. 101.
 St. Josemaria, The Forge, no. 134.
 St. Josemaria, The Forge, no. 633.
QUOTES FROM ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA
- “You must love, venerate, pray and mortify yourself for the Pope, and do so with greater affection each day. He is the foundation stone of the Church and, throughout the centuries, right to the end of time, he carries out among men that task of sanctifying and governing which Jesus entrusted to Peter” (The Forge, no. 134).
- “Love for the Roman Pontiff must be in us a delightful passion, for in him we see Christ. If we talk and listen to Our Lord in prayer, we will go forward with a clear gaze that will permit us to perceive the action of the Holy Spirit, even when faced with events we do not understand, or which produce suffering or sorrow” (In Love with the Church, no. 13).
- “Through two thousand years of history, the apostolic succession has been preserved in the Church. (…) And, among the Apostles, Christ himself made Simon the object of special attention. ‘You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church! I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren. ‘Peter moves to Rome and there establishes the see of primacy of the Vicar of Christ. For this reason it is in Rome that the apostolic succession is seen most clearly. And for this reason Rome is quite properly called ‘the Apostolic See’” (In Love with the Church, no. 12).
- “Offer your prayer, your atonement, and your action for this end: ut sint unum! – that all of us Christians may share one will, one heart, one spirit. We may all go to Jesus, closely united to the Pope, through Mary. We help to make that apostolic continuity more evident in the eyes of all men by demonstrating with exquisite fidelity our union with the Pope, which is union with Peter. Love for the Roman Pontiff must be in us a delightful passion, for in him we see Christ. If we talk with the Lord in prayer, we will go forward with a clear gaze that will permit us to perceive the action of the Holy Spirit, even in the face of events we do not understand or which produce sighs or sorrow” (In Love with the Church, no. 11).
- “Thank you, my God, for that love for the Pope you have placed in my heart” (The Way, no. 573).