The delegates of the 31st General Congregation articulate, in the following decree, the duties of the vicar general following the death of the Jesuits’ superior general. The decree, according to historian John Padberg, intends to help with the preparation of a general congregation convened, in part, to elect the departed general’s successor. Padberg explains that this decree’s clarifications were necessary with the establishment of four general assistants to work with the superior general, as established by a subsequent decree (see the congregation’s historical preface in Jesuit Life & Mission Today (2009), pg. 34).
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1. The right and duty of the Vicar-General, after the death of the General, to convoke and prepare for a General Congregation in accordance with norms laid down by the General Congregation is explicitly asserted.
2. The rules for the office of the Vicar-General are to be revised so that, where mention is made of a vote of the Assistants, this is to be understood to refer to the General Assistants.
3. In the rules for the office of the Vicar-General, No. 7 is to be revised to state that the Vicar-General must have four consultors (in the strict sense, i.e., the General Assistants) appointed by the Society; if one of them is lacking, a substitute shall be designated according to the norm of No. 12 in the rules for the office of Vicar-General.
4. The last clause of decree 274 in the Collection of Decrees is to be revised to state that the office of Visitors, after a General dies, continues until such time as either the Vicar-General, after consultation with the General Assistants, or the new General shall have decided otherwise.
5. Concerning the deliberative vote of the General Assistants (No. 12) and affairs which are not to be brought to a conclusion (Nos. 8–9), it seems better to make no change, especially since (see No. 3 above) a Substitute Assistant can now be appointed in place of that General Assistant who might be named or elected as Vicar.
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 43, “The Vicar-General after the Death of the General,” pg. 199 [643–647].