The delegates of the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus examined the practical operations of a general congregation. The results of that examination appear in the decree appearing below. The decree also recommends that the superior general appoint a commission to study how many delegates should attend a general congregation and how those delegates ought to be apportioned (“according to criteria which are not only quantitative but also qualitative”), with a goal of “reducing the numbers of those who attend a general congregation.”
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1. The 32nd General Congregation confirms Decree 38 of the 31st General Congregation on the preparation for a general congregation. It further defines this decree in the following ways:
a. The preparation for a general congregation should be complete, in the sense that it should include the drafting of the preliminary reports which are now described in the first sentence of n. 119, No. 3, of the Formula of the General Congregation. In as far as possible, these reports should be prepared for all the topics which the coming general congregation will be likely to treat.
b. The preparation for a general congregation should also be authoritative, in the sense that the preliminary reports and studies described in (a) above, to the extent that they are produced or approved by the official preparatory committee described in (c) below, should be recognized by the general congregation as part of its official work, although the congregation retains the power to complete this preparatory work itself.
c. If it seems useful, the preliminary committees foreseen in n. 7 of Decree 38 of the 31st General Congregation may be set up, but, in any case, an official preparatory committee should be established in due time. Its members are to be chosen by the General or the Vicar General, acting with his council, from among those who will attend the coming congregation. This committee should meet early enough to complete the preparations described in (a) and (b) above.
2. The Formula of the General Congregation should be revised with regard to both its procedure and its method of handling business from the calling of the congregation until its closing.
3. The additional procedural norms adopted by the 32nd General Congregation for its own use should also be reviewed.
4. In the future, those who attend the congregation only “ad negotia” (according to the norm contained in n. 7, of the Formula of the General Congregation) may be elected secretary or assistant secretary of the congregation and members of the committee on the state of the Society and the committee for screening postulates. They may also be elected “Definitores.”
5. In addition to what is contained in n. 3 of Decree 39 of the 31st General Congregation, the power of both the congregation of procurators and the congregation of provincials is augmented so that they may:
1° prepare and present to the Society a report on the state of the Society;
2° suspend decrees of previous general congregations until the next general congregation, if this seems necessary.
The 32nd General Congregation gives the following commission and authority to Father General: That, with the help of a commission and with the deliberative vote of those fathers of the General Curia who have a right by reason of their office to attend a general congregation, he should:
a. revise the Formula of the General Congregation as well as the additional procedural norms, as described in nn. 2 and 3 above, in light of the experience of this general congregation;
b. introduce into the Formula of the General Congregation the changes mentioned in nn. 1 and 4 above and determine the particulars which may be required to carry out the decisions of this General Congregation regarding these changes.
c. as far as necessary, adapt and change the Formula of the General Congregation to accomplish the above;
d. make any decisions, of a more particular nature, which may be required to implement n. 5 above. As far as necessary, he may also change the Formulas of both the congregation of procurators and the congregation of provincials to include the new decisions which pertain to those congregations.
7. The 32nd General Congregation recommends to Father General that he establish a commission to examine the following questions in more detail in preparation for their consideration and decision by the next general congregation:
— stabilizing the number of those who attend a general congregation;
— apportioning the members of the general congregation according to criteria which are not only quantitative but also qualitative;
— reducing the numbers of those who attend a general 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 32, Decree 13, “The General Congregation and Congregations of Procurators and Provincials,” pg. 367–368 [303–311].