Decree 38: “Preparation for a General Congregation,” General Congregation 31 (1966)

Among the postulate (or petitions) received in advance of the 31st General Congregation, several expressed a desire for more regular general congregations. The delegates rejected those requests, in part because of historical precedent but also because the purpose of such gatherings could be fulfilled by meetings of other individuals (for example, of procurators or of provincial officials). In the following decree, the delegates explain how the superior general and his assistants should study how these meetings ought to operate.

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1.     Father General together with the General Assistants should take care of all long term questions and problems that refer to a future general congregation.

2.     It will help if the province congregations that precede a congregation of procurators or of provincials send to Father General not only the postulata and the reasons for or against calling a general congregation, but also questions and problems to be proposed to the future general congregation.

3.     It is the duty of Father General and the General Assistants to see to it that these questions and problems (mentioned above in Nos. 1 and 2) are put in suitable order and carefully studied and prepared, with the assistance of experts, for the future general congregation. When the time has been fixed for the general congregation, these questions and problems, together with the studies made of them, should be sent to all the provincials for communication in a suitable way to the province congregation.

4.     In a congregation of procurators or of provincials, when Father General makes his report on the state of the Society, he should also take into account these problems.

5.     There should be a sufficiently long interval between all the province congregations and the start of the general congregation.

6.     All postulata sent by province congregations or by private individuals should arrive in Rome several months (at least two months) before the start of the general congregation, as far as circumstances permit and Father General or the Vicar decide. It is allowed, however, for the fathers of the congregation to bring their own postulata in keeping with the Formula of the General Congregation, No. 116, §2, and No. 101, §6.

7.     To Father General or the Vicar is entrusted the task of calling experts to Rome as soon as possible after the date of the general congregation has been officially announced and of setting up preliminary committees to gather together and put in order the postulata and to prepare the order of the agenda for the general congregation. These preliminary committees should be filled out, immediately after the province congregations, with electors chosen from the various assistancies.

8.     When the province congregations are concluded, care should be taken to send information to the preliminary committees about each elector’s competence and knowledge of questions to be treated, and the same information should be communicated to all the electors. The purpose of this will be to make it easier to set up the commissions for handling the business of the general congregation.

9.     Father General or the Vicar should see to it that the studies and works of the preliminary committees are organized in proper order and communicated to the provincials and electors.

1o.     Since the help of experts is of great importance, when the general congregation has assembled, Father General or the Vicar should see to it that a sufficient number of experts are on hand in Rome who can help the commissions in handling their assignments.



Original Source (English translation):

Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, General Congregation 31, Decree 38, “Preparation for a General Congregation,” pg. 191–192 [606–615].