The following decree continues the thoughts of an earlier decree from the 31st General Congregation, stating the process by which provincials would gather every three years (rather than having more regular general congregations). The Congregation of Provincials would have two purposes: “to cast a deliberative vote as to whether or not a general congregation should be called” and to “consult with Father General about the state and affairs of the Society as a whole, especially about the more universal undertakings of the apostolate.”
For more from the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.
1. Every other third year, in place of procurators elected in the province congregations, all the provincials should meet in Rome in a congregation to be called the Congregation of Provincials; the three-year periods are to be calculated in such a way that the first congregation after the General Congregation will be a congregation of procurators, the second, that of provincials. The congregation of provincials, however, is omitted in that third year in which from the number of “votes” of province congregations in favor of summoning a general congregation, it is already certainly clear that a general congregation must indeed be called.
2. The purpose of each of these congregations is twofold:
1° To cast a deliberative vote as to whether or not a general congregation should be called;
2° To consult with Father General about the state and affairs of the Society as a whole, especially about the more universal undertakings of the apostolate and, when it is a question of provincials, to set up those talks and meetings with Father General that are so important for good government. These congregations have, however, no legislative power.
3. In casting their vote as to whether a general congregation should be called:
1° The provincials are bound to follow the opinion which was approved by their province’s congregation in an instance where that opinion was affirmative, i.e., for calling the congregation, but not if it was negative.
2° Procurators are never bound to follow the opinion of their province, but they should adopt as their own that opinion which, after considering all the information they received, seems better in the Lord.
4. In province congregations that precede a congregation of provincials, one relator is to be elected from the professed and spiritual coadjutors, other than the provincial, who will inform Father General by letter of the state of the province. It is left to the prudence of Father General to judge whether, besides this written report, the relator himself should be called to Rome.
5. What is said here of provinces and provincials is to be understood also of independent vice-provinces and their provincials.
Original Source (English translation):
Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st–35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, General Congregation 31, Decree 39, “Congregations of Procurators and of Provincials,” pg. 192–193 [616–623].