St Peter, the disputed site of his Burial Place and the Apostolic Succession
This was not an easy book to write because, for many people, it may contradict their long-held beliefs. Intense feelings are invoked in almost all discussions of biblical interpretation. Catholics will probably accuse the author of trying to take ‘Rome’ out of ‘Roman Catholicism’. In a more simplistic sense it might be likened to spitefully informing a minor that there is no Santa Claus. Worse, it is purports to suggest that over a billion people are wrong in their beliefs and the author is right. Perhaps, it might be argued, it would be better if the subject matter, which may be harmless tradition and an edifying myth, is best left undisturbed. After all, it is always possible we are missing one vital piece of information that would prove the Catholic Church was correct all along in believing that St Peter was martyred in Rome. However, the facts would seem to suggest strongly otherwise. Then there is the matter of the belief in a continuing ‘apostolic succession’ which is exceptionally difficult to prove (unless the unsatisfactory defense is tradition and blind faith). Thus the battleground of this contentious enquiry rests mainly on tradition and faith versus (only partially verifiable) facts. So, in the end, it is doubtful the enquiry will change many minds. But, if it states its case, pro and con, honestly enough to let people judge for themselves, then that is probably sufficient.
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