The decrees promulgated by the 31st General Congregation required changes to how future provincial congregations would operate. The following decree outlines those changes to the Formula of the Provincial Congregations. Most of these changes concern who could participate in a provincial congregation.
For more from the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.
n. 3—§7 (addenda). If, because of religious persecution or similar adverse circumstances, a provincial congregation cannot be held nor can a provincial send someone from his province in his place to a general congregation or designate someone to fulfill the function of relator, the general, with advice of the general assistants or the vicar-general in the same circumstances, will name some member of the Society from that province who is professed of the four vows, either as elector who will then become a member of the general congregation with full rights in place of the provincial, or as procurator in a congregation of procurators.
n. 6—§1. The right to attend a provincial congregation belongs by reason of their office to the following:
1° the provincial;
2° all local superiors no matter what they are called who ordinarily are named by Father General;
3° the vice-provincial and vice-superiors but only according to the norms of n. 24–26;
4° the treasurer of the province;
5° the consultors of the province.
§2. The following do not have a right to membership by reason of their office:
1° the socius to the provincial;
2° the instructor of the tertianship;
3° the master of novices.
n. 7—§1. Besides those who by reason of their office are members of the congregation and those who according to norm n. 6 may have been designated by the provincial, there should be in the congregation forty previously elected fathers or brothers.
§2. In this preliminary election:
1° All the solemnly professed and the spiritual and temporal formed coadjutors who are members of that province have active voice, according to the norm of n. 7 bis.
2° The same members have passive voice unless they already are coming to the congregation by reason of their office, keeping intact the prescriptions of n. 113.
3° The election is to be carried out by written ballot sent to the provincial “soli” in two envelopes. The name of the person doing the voting is to be written on the inner envelope but not on the ballot itself.
4° Each member of the province who is voting can write on the ballot the names of 25 candidates. If someone, however, should know only a few members of the province, it will be enough to write only a certain number of names even if he does not fill out the total number of 25.
5° The electors ought to look to the good of the whole province and of the Society rather than to obtaining some benefit for a particular house or some other part of the province.
6° The votes are to be personal, that is, to be cast in accord with one’s own conscience and knowledge and seriously thought about in prayer before the Lord. Secrecy is to be observed. However it is licit for the person voting to seek information under the seal of confidentiality from one or another prudent man.
7° No one is to volunteer information to someone who does not ask for it.
§3. For the validity of this preliminary election it is not required that each and every person who has active voice respond, nor that two-thirds of the electors send in a ballot as long as suitably in advance they have received news of the fact the election is to held.
§4. The counting of the ballots, with the names of the voters removed, is to be done by the provincial with the four consultors of the province. This election commission has the right to resolve doubts on the validity of the whole balloting and of each and every ballot.
§5. After the counting of the ballots, a list should be drawn up of those above who have been elected by the whole province, with no indication of the house to which each belongs.
§6. The provincial may, with the deliberative vote of the election commission, summon to the congregation three other professed fathers or spiritual or temporal coadjutors who are to be designated in the list as “named by the provincial.” The provincial is however not so bound to name three people. Those so designated become members of the congregation “supra numerum.” However they have the right not only to deal with the affairs of the congregation but also to participate in the elections which take place in the congregation.
§7. At least half the members of the congregation including those who are there “supra numerum” will be professed of the four solemn vows. The formed temporal coadjutors shall not exceed the number of five but there must be at least one of them at the congregation.
N.B. It is further to be determined, according to the norm of decree 52, what is to be done when the number of those who have been elected is not sufficient to complete the set number of 40 Jesuits who are to be members of the congregation.
n. 7 bis (previously §§2–5 no. 7).
n. 8—§§1–2 are omitted.
n. 10 is omitted.
n. 16—§1. With reference to impediments which might exist in those elected to the congregation, before the congregation begins the provincial, together with four of the members who are to come to that congregation by right of that office and who can conveniently be called together, will judge them.
n. 21—The Jesuits who are members of the General’s curia retain active and passive voice in their own province as do also those who are assigned to a house or a work immediately dependent upon the General. In addition, the secretary of the Society, the general counselors, the regional assistants, the procurator general and the treasurer general as well as the superior of the curia have a right to membership in the congregation of their own province by reason of their office. All of these, however, can be dispensed by Father General from the obligation of attending the congregation.
n. 28—§2. All members of the Society may in their private capacity offer whatever information they wish to the consultors, to the superior or to anyone who is elected to the congregation, or they can send this material to the congregation itself, keeping however the prescriptions of n. 74 §§2–7.
n. 29—§2. This is so to be made up that after the name of the provincial are listed all those who have taken final vows, according to the calendar order in which they have made their definitive incorporation into the Society. There is to be no precedence by grade or office. If several have pronounced their final vows on the same day, the earlier place on the list is to be given to the one who has been longest in religious life, and then to the one who is older. If there are some who have all of these characteristics identically, then before each provincial congregation the matter is to be decided by lot by the provincial in the presence of the consultors of the province. Scholastics, if there should be some on this list, are to be ranked in order of length of time in religious life.
n. 3—§2. is omitted (keeping the prescriptions of n. 86).
n. 43—§3. No one should communicate to others outside of the congregation except to those who have been elected or to their substitutes who may have perhaps been absent from the congregation the things which are done in the congregation except according to the norms laid down at the immediately previous general congregation. However, the General or the Vicar-General has the power to further adapt these norms to the particular conditions of a provincial congregation.
n. 55—Eighth, immediately after the two deputies have been elected, the day will be set by a public majority vote on which the election of those to be sent is held. If it seems better to postpone that election, there is no impediment to conducting the affairs of the congregation before the election.
n. 74—§1 (remains the same).
1° If they are destined for the General Congregation should be appropriate to preserving, promoting and adapting the Institute.
2° (remains the same).
§3. It is not the prerogative of the provincial congregation to deal with persons. If, however, in the course of business persons have to be dealt with indirectly, this is to be done with appropriate and religious modesty.
§4. The provincial congregation may act:
1° On the substantials or the fundamentals of the Institute whenever there are serious reasons to do so,1 and those reasons ought to be the more serious insofar as the affair more intimately touches our way of life and acting;2
2° On other of our laws, observing the same proportion.
§5. 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 it seek some remedy or propose some solution.
§6. 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 as those who are not members of the congregation.
In all postulata the following is required:
1° that they be written in Latin unless they have been submitted by temporal coadjutors; to the Latin should be added a vernacular translation of the postulatum itself and of at least a summary of the whole proposition or argument.
2° that they exhibit due seriousness and reverence toward the Institute. For this it will help much 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.
§7. 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 or urge them to follow this or that opinion.
n. 76.—All the postulata which have been sent to the congregation are to be given to the members of the congregation along with the reasons added by the author of the postulatum; it is to be noted which of the postulata the deputation has admitted to consideration and which ones it has rejected.
n. 81.—§2. In order for a postulatum to be considered approved by the congregation when it deals with changing the substantials or the fundamentals of the Institute or the pontifical law proper to the Society or the Constitutions, a twofold vote is required: the first ballot by majority vote is to decide whether the matter should be dealt with; the second ballot by a two-thirds majority vote whether the proposal is approved. It is, however, allowable before the first ballot to set forth the meaning and the reasons for the postulata.
n. 86 bis.—The provincial should take care that those who have sent postulata to the provincial congregation learn in good time what happened to their requests, at least if a postulatum was rejected.
n. 92.—§. (To be added at the end): (a) If neither a congregation of a vice-province or mission can be held nor the vice-provincial or superior of a mission can send some professed father in his place, because of religious persecution or other unfavorable conditions, the norm of n. 3 §7 is to observed.
§4. (To be added at the end): 3° If neither the congregation of a vice province or a mission can be held nor the vice-provincial or superior of a mission can send some other priest in his place, because of religious persecution or similar unfavorable circumstances, the norm of n. 3 §7, is to be observed.
n. 93.—§1 (remains the same).
§2. Besides those who come to the congregation by reason of office and those who may have been designated by the vice-provincial or the superior of a mission in accord with the norm of §3, the congregation will be made up of 20 fathers or brothers previously elected according to the norm of n. 7, §§2–5, except that each of the Jesuits voting can write on his ballot the names of only 12 candidates.
§3. The vice-provincial or superior of the mission can call to the congregation three other fathers or brothers in accord with norm n. 7 §6.
§4. At least half the members of the congregation including those who are there “supra numerum” will be professed of the four solemn vows. The formed temporal coadjutors shall not exceed the number of five, but there must be at least one of them at the congregation.
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 51, “Changes in the Formula of the Provincial Congregation in Accord with the Decisions of the Present Congregation,” pg. 216–221 [718–758].