Decree 50: “Changes in the Formula of the General Congregation in Accord with the Decisions of the Present Congregation,” General Congregation 31 (1966)

The decrees promulgated by the 31st General Congregation required changes to how future congregations would operate as described in the Formula of the General Congregation. The following decree outlines those changes. Among the alterations are those concerning the postulta (or petitions) Jesuits send for consideration at a general congregation. The decree notes that such postulta were to be “written in Latin,” were to “exhibit due seriousness and reverence,” and were to be accompanied by “a separate page adding concisely and clearly the principal reasons” for the particular request.

For more from the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.



n.7.— §1. For the business of the congregation, that is, ordinarily after the election of the General has been completed, the following are to be admitted to the congregation and they have from then on the right of voting in everything except the election of the general assistants:

1° the general counselors;

2° the regional assistants;

3° the secretary of the Society;

4° the procurator general of the Society;

5° the treasurer general of the Society;

6° the provincials of the vice-provinces and the superiors of missions which have the right to send electors in which a congregation could not be held, if perhaps they are not solemnly professed of the four vows.

7° Procurators who have been called to the congregation by the general in order to provide more ample information on affairs, or who have been sent by their own provincials with the approval of the general given at least after they have been sent.

§2. If during the general congregation some or all of the general counselors or the regional assistants are changed, those who have newly been named immediately acquire the right mentioned above in §1, 1° and 2°; those however who have left office do not lose that right for that particular congregation.

n. 25—§3 No one should communicate to others outside of the congregation the things which are done in the congregation except according to regulations which the general or the vicar-general have set down and the congregation has approved.

n. 56 §2 (addenda). Then the order of business and the manner of proceeding on the day of election are proposed to the congregation for its approval according to what the vicar-general has set down with the advice of the general assistants taking into account the norms of the Constitutions, the traditions of the Society and the circumstances of the times.

nn. 71 — 88: omitted.

n. 11. §1. Not only provincial congregations but also all members of the Society can send postulata to the general congregation. The provincial congregation should not be bypassed without a proportionate reason expressed in the postulatum itself.

§2. A postulatum which touches on some law ought to point out the detriments which have followed or which will follow from the observance of the law and only after that should seek some remedy or propose some solution.

§3. Those who are not members of the congregation should in no wise embroil themselves in the affairs which the congregation is treating nor should they force memoranda or informatory material on the members of the congregation nor urge them to follow this or that opinion.

n. 116 bis—§1. The members of the congregation are not bound to sign their postulata as long as they give them either to the secretary of the congregation or to one of the deputies for screening the postulata. Otherwise they are bound to sign them just like those members of the Society who are not members of the congregation.

§2. In all postulata the following is required:

1° that they be written in Latin;

2° that they exhibit due seriousness and reverence toward the Institute. For this end it will much help if those who are less knowledgeable about the Institute seek the advice of experts;

3° that each postulatum be set out on a separate page adding concisely and clearly the principal reasons for the postulatum. It is by no means prohibited, however, for the position taken in the postulatum to be further and more fully developed in other additional pages.

no. 118 §1. Those prescriptions of the Institute which pertain to pontifical law, either the common law or law proper to the Society, cannot be changed by a congregation unless power to change them has been given to the Society by the Holy See. It will however be lawful to treat of them if the congregation has so decided by a prior majority vote. Before such a prior vote, it is appropriate for the commissions to set forth the meaning of and the reasons for the postulata. Once a formal discussion has been finished, the congregation should not go to the Holy See for a change in one of those prescriptions unless two-thirds of the members of the congregation agree to this.

§2. The Constitutions of our holy founder can be changed by the congregation in those matters which are not among the substantials. We are not to treat of changing them except after the congregation has decided that they are to be treated of by a majority vote. Commissions, however, may before this vote set forth the meaning of and the reasons for the postulata. A decree introducing such a change is not valid unless it has been approved by two-thirds of the votes.

n. 124—All decrees are to be passed by a majority vote, keeping the prescriptions of n. 118 intact.



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 50, “Changes in the Formula of the General Congregation in Accord with the Decisions of the Present Congregation,” pg. 214–216 [706–717].

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