[Do note that the English translation here is a bit rough in spots.]
The Raison d'Etre of the Institute of the Good Shepherd
Fr Stefano Carusi, I.B.P.
The Institute of Good Shepherd was born, as you may know, in 2006. It is important to underline how much it was desired by the Holy Father himself! It was erected by His Eminence Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, towards whom we all have a debt of gratitude and –let me say also– of affection. For the Institute, the liturgical choice is associated to a precise commitment for the exclusive use of the traditional rite, in faithfulness to our own statutes and in spirit of service to the Church. At the same time, our liturgical position is related to our doctrinal position: to an attitude that may know who to express, in fidelity and respect, our reservations about the changes concerning the last forty-fifty years. This is a point that must be considered with the due respect but also with theological and ecclesiastical franchise. I quote from the document of our settlement (in great part inspired by the 1988 “Ratzinger-Lefebvre Protocol”:
Regarding some points taught by Vatican Council II, or concerning some subsequent reforms of liturgy and canon law that seem to us hardly compatible with Tradition, we engage ourselves to observe a positive attitude of study and communication with the Holy See”.
In connection with these points, our statutes specifically provide for an option of a “constructive critique”, turned to offer a service to the Roman Pontiff.
This is our reason of being: whilst we leave to the sole Vicar of Christ to imperatively speak out, to decide with authority in everything that only He is able to judge, we intend, in fidelity to the charisma stated by our statutes, to give a testimony and a contribution in that sense. Cardinal Castrillón has said: “constructive critique can be a great service rendered to the Church”. And this is our course of action. This applies also concerning certain points of the last Council, for which, where the interpretation of the Teaching text –authentic non-infallible Magisterium– is possible, it must be considered in “continuity of the theological hermeneutic” (to use an expression of the notable Msgr. Gherardini), but where this may not be possible, the Holy Father –who has the power of the Keys– could be implored to re-formulate unhappy expressions of the magisterial texts that are neither infallible nor binding in any single one of their sentences. Cum Petro et sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter) then, and at the same time in love for trust and in the certitude that the theological opinions remain disputable and that the Church never has imposed them as matter of faith, but are only a matter of theology and its classical criteria.
Some time ago, we have openly and spontaneously talked in these terms to the Most Reverend Msgr. Pozzo, who, during our informal conversation, although personally not fully sharing our view, spoke about the legitimacy of this theological freedom, of this critical discussion, and even about its usefulness in the current ecclesial outlook. This freedom has its limits in the infallible Magisterium –in necessariis unitas (unity in what is necessary) – and also in the prudent and responsible expression of traditional dissent (if I can talk in this way). In fact, ecclesial charity must always shape and sometimes temper “rabies theologica” (theological rage), but never should fall to flattering hypocrisy, which is the worst lack of respect to the ecclesiastical authority. It would be to court flattery and not sincerity from devoted children.
Our liturgical choice, then, is linked to the doctrinal choice and must be set into the consideration of the problems that trouble the Church since decades. Among them there is certainly the high relevant liturgical question, which must be regarded with due humility, but in a substantially doctrinal view. If anyone is interested, it is possible to refer to some of my articles published on the site “Disputationes Theologicae”, which, of course, is not an official mouthpiece of the Institute, but is a free magazine in the theological field, trying to interpret the positions explained above. Maybe this audience will think that this is a high-flying plan: I willingly acquiesce in it. However, I insist, we do not pretend to solve the problems: we content ourselves with posing them, leaving to Peter – when he wishes to, and is able – the brief of binding and loosing, in the way that the Divine Master has established. And our contribution to the good of the Church consists also in our existence on the mentioned assumptions. In this way we give testimony of an ecclesial reality, an ecclesial position.
This job of reflection absorbs not a little of our energies and it is towards the formation of young seminarians that our attention is in great part concentrated. In fact, it is about to know how to offer a formation that guards against the arrogant renunciation to the traditional wisdom of the Church and the immortal Tridentine indications, but that may, at the same time, provide those instruments that modern problems and the dramatic current situation require. A classical formation in the knowledge of Latin and Greek Letters, and of the immortal Literature written in these languages, is a simple and traditional way to provide that “natural” forma mentis, that weds well with the Aristoteli[an]-Thomistic philosophy and theology, over which it is inserted. The prosecution of the studies is as much as possible encouraged and this is also for which our Roman house exists.
Italy, and not only Rome, is also a field for the apostolate: the Institute serves a Chaplaincy (one of the two existing in Italy) in the Chiaravallese, where a pleasant collaboration with the diocese permits to accomplish a work of spiritual assistance on a regular basis, in serenity and with the permanent guarantee provided by a juridical structure. In general, where we cannot reside permanently, we engage ourselves to frequent visits, in the conviction that the times in which we live demand sacrifice from priests and faithful, without feelings of greatness or dreams of conversions of crowds. In Bordeaux, our ‘motherhouse’, together with the personal parish of St.-Éloi, its many-sided activities and its four priests, is a concrete example of the possibility of having a parish life in the context of Tradition and in friendly collaboration with the diocese, under the authority and charitable availability of His Eminence Cardinal Ricard. Near Bourges, our School of the Angelus (elementary and high school), is growing, having reached almost 70 pupils. Our activities of apostolate continue in two other elementary school houses.
The apostolic aid, provided until now as a punctual support in some dioceses, becomes more stable and fits in with a more and more canonical frame in the diocese of Le Mans, where a permanent presence has been agreed with the Ordinary since last September. It is also the case of the diocese of Blois and, especially, in that of Chartres, where we have been present for a longer time. We are present in Paris through a cultural centre, and a house for spiritual retreats has been set not far from Poitiers. Across the Atlantic, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Bogotá has canonically erected a house, allowing in this way our apostolate in Spanish-speaking America besides the activities of the Institute in Chile. No pharaonic plans, no awesome foundations, but a patient work consisting in “reinforcing the bastions”, rather than to jump in loud enterprises. Above all by providing canonical frames, in fidelity to our specificity and in respect to the laws of the Church: important guarantees of stability, even for avoiding the recurring phenomenon by which Traditional Catholics feel inhibited in their frankness and compelled (even against their conscience) to servility because of the lack of protection. Of course we could enlarge our presence in many other countries, and here I address to the priests, some of them from the diocesan clergy, that fully share the charisma of the Good shepherd, but often lack of that audacia (bravery) that would let them to make a choice, not always immediately rewarding, but
notwithstanding relevant for the Church: what we can do depends also on the strength that those who in conscience share our specificities opt or will opt for giving us. It depends on the free will of each one.
I reiterate the regards from the Superior of the Institute and my own to all here present, thanking you again for the attention you have given me.
Don Stefano Carusi, IBP