The Jesuit’s superior general may, from time to time, appoint a visitor to a province, a temporary assignment intended to assess and improve the effectiveness of ministries and individuals. A position not unique to the Society of Jesus but one that became increasingly common in the order by the mid-sixteenth century, a visitor was endowed with the authority to act, as one historian has noted, “in the superior general’s stead while the general himself remained at the curia in Rome.” With the following decree, the delegates to the 31st General Congregation seek to clarify the responsibilities and tenure of a visitor.
For more from the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.
1. Decree 274 of the Collection of Decrees is revised as follows:
Father General has the power to send Visitors to provinces when it shall seem good to him and for the length of time and with the authority and jurisdiction that seem good. When a General dies, the office of Visitor continues until such time as the Vicar-General, after consultation with the General Assistants, or the new General shall decide otherwise.
2. The General Congregation recommends to Father General that, while our law with regard to Visitors is to remain unchanged, they should not stay in office too long nor enjoy undefined authority or jurisdiction.
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 45, “Visitors,” pg. 202 [664–665].