Truth Unites... and Divides wrote:
"Anyways, what does the RCC have to say regarding Origen's commentary on Matt 16:18?"
Different Catholics will respond in different ways. One Catholic might argue that Origen's comments aren't meant to deny that a papal reading of the passage is also appropriate, another Catholic might argue that Origen and other early sources don't have much relevance, because the understanding of the papacy hadn't developed sufficiently yet, and another Catholic might dismiss Origen's interpretation because he was a heretic. (However, Catholic apologists and the documents of the Catholic hierarchy often cite Origen. Any claim that Origen shouldn't be cited at all, because he's a heretic, is suspect on Roman Catholic grounds.) The Roman Catholic scholar Robert Eno wrote, "a plain recognition of Roman primacy or of a connection between Peter and the contemporary bishop of Rome seems remote from Origen's thoughts" (The Rise Of The Papacy [Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1990], p. 43). I've seen Catholics cite another passage in Origen that refers to Peter as a rock without referring to other Christians as such, but if Origen thought of all Christians as rocks, then it would follow that Peter is a rock. A reference to Peter as a rock doesn't prove that he was thought of as the only rock or that his unique status as such, if it were unique, has papal implications. No Christian should deny that Peter is a foundation stone of the church and a rock in other contexts, but the same can be said of other Christians (Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:5, Revelation 21:14).
The fact that Catholics are going to Matthew 16 to begin with is telling. The passage can more reasonably be interpreted in a non-papal manner. A papal interpretation requires reading multiple dubious assumptions into the text. See here.
Do we have to resort to something like a Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16 in order to find justification for the office of bishop or the office of deacon in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles? Not only are the offices mentioned (Acts 20:17, Philippians 1:1), but we also see repeated references to their appointment (Acts 14:23, Ephesians 4:11, Titus 1:5), their qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9), their discipline (1 Timothy 5:19-20), their responsibilities (Ephesians 4:12-13, Titus 1:10-11, James 5:14, 1 Peter 5:1-3), their reward (1 Timothy 5:17-18, 1 Peter 5:4), their rank (1 Corinthians 12:28), the submission due them (1 Timothy 2:11-12), etc. If there was an office that was to have jurisdictional primacy and infallibility throughout church history, an office that could be called the foundation of the church, wouldn't we expect it to be mentioned explicitly and often? But it isn't mentioned at all, even when the early sources are discussing Peter or the Roman church. In the New Testament, which covers about the first sixty years of church history (the prophecies in Revelation and elsewhere cover much more), there isn't a single Roman bishop mentioned or named, nor are there any admonitions to submit to the papacy or any references to appointing Popes, determining whether he's exercising his infallibility, appealing to him to settle disputes, etc. When speaking about the post-apostolic future, the apostles are concerned with bishops and teachers in general (Acts 20:28-31, 2 Timothy 2:2) and submission to scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 3:1-2, Revelation 22:18-19), but don't say a word about any papacy. The Catholic attempt to read a papacy into passages like Matthew 16 and John 21 has the appearance of revisionism.
If later generations had wanted to read a Pauline or Johannine papacy into the New Testament, they could have taken a Roman Catholic approach toward a passage like 2 Corinthians 11:28 or John's self-designation as "the elder", for example. But if a Pauline or Johannine papacy had been intended, we would expect much more to be said of it, both in terms of frequency and in terms of explicitness. The same is true of a Petrine papacy.
Since Petrine primacy of some type doesn't lead us to the conclusion of Roman primacy or primacy of a jurisdictional nature in particular, Catholics will sometimes cite a passage like Romans 1:8 in order to go beyond a mere Petrine primacy. But we could similarly cite something like Acts 20:28 or the fact that Revelation 2-3 cites the Ephesian church before any other church as evidence of an Ephesian primacy. Maybe Revelation 2:2 is meant to refer to the Ephesian church's role as the guardian of apostolic authority. I think that those of us who have had significant experience interacting with Roman Catholics can imagine what Catholics would make of a passage like 2 Corinthians 11:28, 2 John 1, Acts 20:28, or Revelation 2:1-2 if it had been directed at Peter, the bishops of Rome, or the Roman church.
And speaking of Origen, imagine what Catholics would make of the following passage in Origen if it had been said of Peter:
"I do not know how Celsus should have forgotten or not have thought of saying something about Paul, the founder, after Jesus, of the Churches that are in Christ." (Against Celsus, 1:63)
Since Origen mentions Paul instead of Peter, most Catholics probably haven't ever heard of this passage before, nor would they think it has papal implications. Elsewhere, Origen refers to somebody other than Christ as "the head of the Church" (Joseph Lienhard, translator, Origen: Homilies On Luke, Fragments On Luke [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Of America Press, 1996], pp. 138, 140). Is he referring to the bishop of Rome? No, he's referring to an angel.