The objectives of the International Association of Patristic Studies (I.A.P.S.) are clearly expressed in the first two articles of its Statutes:
1. The purpose of the International Association of Patristic Studies (I.A.P.S.), founded on June 26th 1965, by a group of scholars at a colloquium in Paris, is to promote the study of Christian antiquity, especially the Fathers of the Church, without prejudice to works already undertaken in this domain in various countries. The Association is in no way intended to take the place of institutions, publications and conferences already in existence.
2. The I.A.P.S. proposes by whatever means are appropriate to bring into liaison and mutual communication qualified persons whose work in one way or other concerns Patristic research, especially those engaged in imparting instruction in this field and responsible for orienting and directing research, as well as directors of collections, editions, reviews, encyclopedias and diverse publications.
In other words, it is not the intention of the I.A.P.S. to compete with any existing institution. On the contrary, its aim is to promote contact and scientific dialogue among individuals, groups, and communities, and among teaching, research and repository institutions.
To answer a question that is sometimes raised, the I.A.P.S. is in no way a religious association. No religious or philosophical affiliation is required of its members, although in some countries some members do belong to, or are even ministers of, a Christian church.
In addition, the I.A.P.S. has no institutional connection with the organization of the Oxford Patristic Conferences by the Faculty of Theology of Oxford University. It is entirely independent, although for the past dozen years the Directors of these Conferences have consulted with the President of the I.A.P.S. Since—particularly in the early years—the Oxford Conference constituted the largest international gathering of patristic scholars, it was natural for the I.A.P.S. to hold its meetings alongside these conferences.