Decree 54: “Prior Censorship of Books,” General Congregation 31 (1966)

Postulta (or petitions) sent by Jesuits in advance of the 31st General Congregation requested that the congregation’s delegates revise the norms that previously censored some books. The delegates, in the following decree, respond to those requests by giving the superior general the authority to later “adapt the particular norms of our own law in this respect, by way of experiment.” The decree also states it “desirable” that the superior general receive suggestions on such adaptations from officials in different regions or countries to ensure the changes “be more appropriate to their own particular situations and problems.”

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



1.     In order that more effective provision be made for Jesuits to engage with congruous freedom and responsibility in the intellectual apostolate of the press and other forms of mass communications, due consideration being given at the same time to security of doctrine and the interests of the Church and of the Society, the 31st General Congregation recommends and, insofar as necessary, communicates to Father General the power, without prejudice to the general principle of the Constitutions regarding previous censorship of writings, to adapt the particular norms of our own law in this respect, by way of experiment. This he may do according to his own prudent judgment, after consultation with experts and with the general assistants.

2.     With a view to the same end, it is desirable that the boards of provincials, either of an assistancy or of a region or country, having heard the advice of experts, propose to Father General those adaptations which appear to be more appropriate to their own particular situations and problems.



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 54, “Prior Censorship of Books,” pg. 223 [766–767].