For an Orthodox Catholic take on 'Peter & the Rock' access - http://aggreen.net/peter/st_peter.html
Q. How do you interpret Jesus' words to Peter about being the "rock"
of the Church? Does the Blessed Theophylact contradict Orthodox
teaching when he writes: "The Lord gives Peter a great reward, that
the Church will be built on him?" Do the Orthodox see the Pope as the
world's Christian leader?
The verse to which you refer is one of the most controversial in the
entire Bible: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my
Church" (Mt 16:18). Peter in Aramaic is Cephas, meaning "Rock"
or "Rocky," a play on words by Jesus. Roman Catholics see this verse
as applying to Peter himself and passing on the privilege to all the
popes in history. Many centuries later, popes began to claim not only
universal authority over the whole Church but also infallibility when
speaking officially ("ex cathedra") on matters of faith and morals.
In contrast, Protestants have insisted that Jesus' words applied only
to Peter's confession of faith. They would say that every Christian
can make a similar confession, and this has nothing to do with
privileges accrued to Popes centuries later. It seems that in their
mutual antagonisms and search for ultimate authority Protestants
looked to the Bible as an infallible book, whereas the Roman
Catholics found it in an infallible Pope.
The Eastern Orthodox tradition, developing apart from Western
controversies, offers a "golden mean" between the two extremes.
Orthodox theologians mainly interpret Jesus' words as referring to
Peter's confession of faith, but they also attribute special
privileges to Peter and his successors. The popes, we say, serve as
bishops of the greatest of all Christian centers--Rome.
Neilos Kabasilas, Archbishop of Thessalonike (14th century),
writes: "As long as the pope observes due order and remains in the
truth, he preserves the first place which belongs to him by right; he
is the [earthly] head of the Church and supreme pontiff; the
successor of Peter and of all the apostles." This rhetorically
generous and weighty statement goes along with two assumptions: (a)
that the true head, rock, and foundation of the Church is Christ
himself; and (b) that the Popes have not quite kept "due order" nor
have "remained in the truth," since they first claimed a universal
monarchy over the Church, and then erroneously covered it with the
mantle of infallibility.
When Blessed Theophylact of Bulgaria (11th century) implies in his
commentary on the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus is speaking about
Peter himself, not only Peter's faith, it is within the Orthodox
tradition. But Theophylact's very next sentence addresses the essence
of the matter: "Since Peter confessed him as Son of God, the Lord
says, 'this confession which you have made shall be the foundation of
those who believe, so that every man who intends to build the house
of faith shall lay down this confession as the foundation.'"
The Apostle Peter was Jesus' chief disciple. After the resurrection,
Jesus honored him with a special commission with the triple
charge "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17). Peter was clearly the leader
of the earliest Church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14; 15:7), however, he
was neither the only nor the absolute leader (Gal. 2:9). If the Pope
would truly follow the example of Peter and would share leadership
with his fellow bishops according to the precedent of the first
Christian Council (Acts 15), then the Orthodox (and many other
Christians besides) could once again accord the Pope full honors as
the world's Christian leader signifying the Church's universal unity