Now that we have had some Scriptural facts, let’s look at a little logic now:
There are only two covenants, the old and the new. But the first Christians under the New Covenant had a living and infallible guide to the truth in Christ himself. Surely the lack of such a guide in future times would constitute yet another covenant -- the difference would be so radical.
It is clear even from Scripture that Peter had a special commission and special powers from Christ to care for the flock of Christ, to bind and loose, and to confirm his brothers in faith -- indeed he had the very powers of the keys to the Kingdom. Obviously, these powers were essential to the Church as constituted by Christ. And Christ promised to be with the Church always to the end of time, and said that the powers of hell would not prevail against it.
Now, clearly Christ knew that Peter would not live until the end of time, so he must have intended that the power he gave to Peter would be carried on until His return. After all, Peter was to feed "My" (Christ's) sheep, and so was serving as the Vicar of Christ in Christ's absence. When Peter died, a new vicar would take his place, and so on, until Christ returned to claim his own. The parable of the steward awaiting his Master's return is very much to the point.
Just as clearly, Peter's authority also enabled himself (and his successors) to set forth the manner in which their successors would be selected, either by choosing the successor personally before death, or by setting forth some other means -- eventually, election by the college of cardinals.
Moreover, if these special and essential powers were to pass out of existence, it would be proof that Christ was no longer with his Church and that the powers of Hell had indeed prevailed. Therefore, again, Christ must have intended successors to Peter.
For this reason, we are not at all surprised that subsequent popes claimed to have the Petrine power and that the early Christian community accepted it without question. As I indicated above, this authority was exercised by the fourth Pope, Clement, while St. John the Evangelist was still alive. The earliest Christians were in a position to know Christ's will from other sources than Scripture, just as we today, under the guidance of the Church, are able to learn from Tradition. And we can assuredly trust in tradition because the Bible told us to in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 – “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.”
***Note that the above article (with the exception of the last sentence) is from EWTN website. To read the whole thing click here. ***
The early Church was structured in a hierarchical manner as it is today. We see in Acts, chapter 15 how the apostles and the elders came together under the leadership of St. Peter to decide the question of what was required of Gentiles. We also see how St. Peter was regarded as the head of the Church when St. Paul, "Went up to Jerusalem to confer with Kephas [Peter] and remained with him fifteen days." (Galatians 1:18) There is no Scriptural evidence of independent local churches.
The Catholic Church is the only church that can claim to have been founded by Christ personally. Every other church traces its lineage back to a mere human person such as Martin Luther or John Wesley. The Catholic Church can trace its lineage back to Jesus Christ who appointed St. Peter as the first pope. This line of popes has continued unbroken for almost 2,000 years. We started first Pope Saint Peter (32-67), then Pope St. Linus (67-76), then Pope St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88), then St. Clement I (88-97), then St. Evaristus (97-105), then St. Alexander I (105-115), then St. Sixtus I (115-125) also called Xystus I, then St. Telesphorus (125-136), then St. Hyginus (136-140), then St. Pius I (140-155), and all the way to our present Pope Benedict XVI.
God rules, instructs and sanctifies His people through His Church. Under her teaching office, the Catholic Church preserves the Word of God. She is the custodian, keeper, dispenser and interpreter of teachings of Christ. And she accomplishes this under the protection of the Holy Spirit.
***Note that I didn’t write the majority of this article either, but I forget where I got it from. :( Oops. So, just know that I am not taking credit for this article.***