Frequently Asked Questions About the IBP
What is the place of the Institute within the Church?
The Institute of the Good Shepherd is a priestly institute, a "Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right". It is subsidiary to the Holy See, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the responsibility of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
The IBP is therefore fully Catholic, and its own charism is fully recognized and encouraged by the Holy See. Its priests work in many dioceses around the world, in the service and under the authority of the diocesan bishops. These bishops, in turn, commit to respect the proper charism and the spiritual identity of the members of the IBP.
The priests of the IBP can thus place the treasures of the liturgical and doctrinal tradition of the Church at the service of many faithful, and work peacefully, under the authority of legitimate pastors, for the dissemination and defense of Tradition, which is a common treasure of the whole Church.
How can the traditional charism of the IBP be put at the service of the Church?
The richness of Catholic Tradition enables IBP priests to offer diocesan bishops many and diverse pastoral services, according to local needs.
Some IBP priests carry out their ministry directly in the service of the Holy See, in Rome: one is secretary to a cardinal, another is a professor in a Pontifical University.
Most often, the priests of the IBP receive pastoral charge of those faithful attached to the traditional form of the Roman rite. This can be as pastor of a personal parish, as at Saint-Eloi in Bordeaux, the Institute's mother house, or as vicar in a territorial parish.
Finally, some priests have received various diocesan chaplaincies at schools, colleges or hospitals, compatible with our charism.
What does it mean that the IBP exclusively celebrates the extraordinary form?
As Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos declared at the parish of Saint-Eloi in Bordeaux in September 2007, the institutes dependent on the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei are "specialized" for traditional liturgical life, at the service of diocesan bishops and the faithful within their dioceses. This liturgical choice therefore determines their common identity, each of which is also distinguished from the others. Thus, belonging to the genus of the Ecclesia Dei communities, IBP is distinguished by a specific difference that should not be erased.
The liturgical and pastoral specificity of the IBP is laid out in its founding texts: "The proper rite of the Institute [of the Good Shepherd], in all its liturgical acts, is the traditional Roman rite" (Statutes of the IBP, I, §2). This liturgical use, which constitutes a true proper right, is specified for the IBP and for each of its members to celebrate this liturgy "as their own rite", according to the exact terms of the decree of erection, drawn up and signed by the Holy See on September 8, 2006. Note that this right was received prior to the generalized law promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI on July 7, 2007 in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
The charism of the IBP therefore includes the right of the sole use of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, offered to the service of parishes and chaplaincies without mixing or juxtaposition with the ordinary form.
What is the IBP's position on the Second Vatican Council?
It is undeniable that Vatican II posed to the Church the essential questions of modernity: conscience, religious freedom, truth, reason and faith, the natural or supernatural unity of mankind, violence and dialogue with cultures, grace and expectations of humanity, etc. Today, we cannot be satisfied with yesterday's responses which must take into account the new issues. But the Council dates from 1965 and today it is no longer a closed discourse on itself. We recognize it for what it is: an ecumenical council falling under the authentic magisterium, but not infallible in every respect and that, because of its novelties, faces certain difficulties in its continuity with the Gospel and Tradition.
We therefore want to participate constructively in a critique on certain themes developed during and after the Second Vatican Council. This debate, opened within the Church by Pope Benedict XVI, concerns points of doctrinal discontinuity posed by the Council. This is the meaning of the commitment formula signed by the founders of the IBP: we commit ourselves to have a positive attitude of study and communication with the Apostolic See, avoiding any controversy.
How do you carry out this mission in the service of the Church?
We devote ourselves to this titanic work in several ways:
First, by training priests capable of providing truly traditional pastoral care which is heir to the past and open to the modern world. For us, it is not a question of remaining frozen in attitudes, but of putting the resources of our common Catholic heritage at the service of an effective and therefore lucid evangelization.
Next, we encourage our priests as much as possible to pursue university studies in fields related to ecclesiastical sciences: theology, philosophy, history, canon law, etc. Thus, nearly half our young priests have obtained or are in the process of obtaining canonical degrees from Catholic or public universities. This is a pledge of serious and well-argued work, if it is to be effective and thorough.
In addition, we organize work and exchange sessions with other intelocutors: specialists, academics and scholars. Several symposia have been organized by the IBP, from its foundation, and on a regular basis thereafter, both for the internal formation of its priests and for dissemination to the faithful.
Finally, several of our priests have published works on a variety of thopical themes, and we encourage the continuation of these publications as much as possible.