Decree 14: “The Provincial Congregation,” General Congregation 32 (1975)

Several aspects of the provincial congregations were addressed by the delegates to the 32nd General Congregation. The following decree discusses the election process for a provincial congregation as well as other topics. It stipulates the necessary changes to the Formula of the Provincial Congregation, the guidelines governing the congregation process.

For more from the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.



The 32nd General Congregation has decided the following about the provincial congregation.


A. The Congregation in General

1.     The power of the provincial congregation is not to be increased. However, before the provincial congregations meet, Father General may send to the delegates questions about the state of the province so that on these questions action might be taken in the provincial congregation.

2.     In the Formula of the Provincial Congregation:

—n. 6; the clause is omitted: “The day of arrival of the delegates be so set that the next day is the first day of the congregation.”

—n. 32, §1, is to begin: “The members legitimately begin the congregation immediately, and at the appointed time…”

—n. 49 is thus corrected: “From the beginning of the congregation there be posted…”

—n. 50 is thus corrected: “At the time established by the provincial for the first session, whoever are present…”

—n. 58 is thus corrected: “Ninth, unless the congregation should prefer to make the choice in the following session, it should determine the day after which it will not be allowed to present any other postulatum, which should be the second day or at most the fourth day after the day on which the first session was held.”

3.     In the Formula, n. 95, the following fourth paragraph is to be added: “In cases of provinces which have been dispersed both within and outside their native country because of religious persecution or other adverse conditions and in which the group existing outside the province constitutes a quasi-province, even if the provincial himself or a delegate elected according to the norm of n. 10 can come from the province to the general congregation, the General or Vicar-General, having consulted and received the approval of the general assistants, can name as a full delegate one of the professed of four vows from among those working outside the territory of their native country.”

4.     The minor questions treated in Postulatum 9471 are to be left to the decision of Father General with a deliberative vote of those fathers of the General’s Curia who have a right ex officio to attend a general congregation.

5.     With reference to the Formula of the Provincial Congregation, the General Congregation directs and empowers Father General, with a deliberative vote of those fathers of the General’s Curia who have a right, ex officio, to attend a general congregation, to bring that Formula up to date and, where necessary, change it and introduce those points on which the General Congregation gave an affirmative vote.


B. Participation in the Congregation

6.     As to the number of delegates to be elected to a provincial congregation, Father General has the power to allow Vice-provinces which have a large number of members to use the norms of provinces for that number, without increasing the number of delegates whom they may send to the general congregation.

7.     The number of those who attend the provincial congregation ex officio should be in some way decreased.

a. To be retained ex officio are those superiors ordinarily named by Father General. But at this time it is recommended that Father General review the list of superiors whom he names in each province and use criteria based on the importance of different offices and even the separation of office of superior from that of director of the apostolic work so that he move toward reducing the number of superiors named by himself.

b. The consultors of the province do not attend the provincial congregation ex officio; the treasurer of the province, however, does.

8.     In the Formula of the Provincial Congregation:—n. 19, §1,  2°  is changed to read as follows: “That there be included in the congregation and computed within the forty members of the congregation (twenty in a vice-province) two or more persons from this territory to be determined by the General or Vicar-General according to the number of Jesuits within the territory and its distance from the province. The General or Vicar-General will designate one of these because of the office he holds. The others will be elected from the list of those who have passive voice by those who have active voice in the territory. The election will be conducted by the superior of the territory. This election process will take place and the results will be reviewed by the superior with his consultors before the rest of the province proceeds to vote on naming the other delegates to the congregation. In the case of such a special election, the members of that territory lose active and passive voice in the election of delegates from the rest of the province.”

9.     To n. 21, §1, 1°, the following is to be added; “It is recommended, however, that as far as possible, they choose delegates from different apostolic works and houses.” In his letter convoking the congregation, the provincial should make the same recommendation.

10.     To n. 21, §1, 4°, in place of “It is permitted to seek in confidence information from one or another prudent man,” the following is to be substituted: “It is permitted, with discretion and charity, to seek information from other persons.”

11.     To Jesuits without final vows, participation in the provincial congregation is granted under the following conditions:

a. All scholastics and brothers without final vows have active voice five years after their entrance into the Society; they have passive voice eight years after their entrance into the Society. With regard to the number of those without final vows in the provincial congregation: there should be at least one; there may not be more than five in the provinces, nor more than three in the vice-provinces.

b. More specific norms concerning this participation should be determined by Father General with the deliberative vote of those fathers of the General Curia who have the right, ex officio, to attend a general congregation. This should be done in a flexible way but within the norms given above.

c. These norms and determinations should be reviewed by the next general congregation.

12.     In the Formula of the Provincial Congregation, n.29, §3, the first words are to be changed to read as follows: “Those who according to the judgment of the committee of assessors mentioned in paragraph 2 or the preparatory committee…etc.” In n. 13 the following words are to be added: “5th—Those ex-claustrated according to the Code of Canon Law, n. 639; 6th—Those who have sought a change to the lay state or to be dismissed from the Society. If the petition is still secret and the person seeking a change to the lay state or dismissal wishes his name to remain on the list of those having passive voice so that his petition remain secret, his name can be kept on the list. But if it happens that he is elected, he must, ipso facto, be considered ineligible by the committee of assessors.”


C. Actions within the Congregation

13.     In the Formula of the Provincial Congregation, n.26 is to be changed to read as follows: “Before the beginning of the congregation, let two lists be prepared and sent in due time to the delegates to the provincial congregation…etc.”

14.     The Formula of the Provincial Congregation is so to be changed as to meet the concerns expressed below without imposing on all provinces the obligation of following this method of procedure:

a. Setting a deadline beyond which postulata may not be sent for consideration by the congregation, without however limiting the right of delegates to submit postulata during the course of the congregation;

b. Sending the postulata to the delegates to the provincial congregation early enough to permit them to study them and to propose amendments before the congregation;

c. Establishing small committees to arrange the postulata in order, and to develop further the topics proposed;

d. All the above should be done in such a way that the anonymity of the authors of the postulata is preserved. It should also be done in a way that preserves the obligation of secrecy and without prejudice to any decision which the committee for screening postulata may wish to make.

15.     The Formula of the Provincial Congregation is to be changed to meet the concerns expressed below without however ordering that this method be followed. In this revision, provision should be made for harmonizing these changes with the power of the committee for screening postulata.

a. That there be committees to study the postulata;

b. That the conclusions of these committees be explained to the congregation by a reporter;

c. That after receiving suggestions, the committee can again study or reshape the postulata;

d. That all the above be carried out according to the regulations of the Formula of the Provincial Congregation concerning the method of voting.

16.     The Formula, n. 44, §2, is to read as follows: “In public votes different methods can be used at the discretion of the provincial according to the importance of the different subjects involved, but the directive in n. 83, §1, must be maintained.”’

17.     In the election of the committee for screening postulata, if it seems fitting to the provincial congregation, a prior indicative vote can be taken.

18.     In the Formula, n. 73, §2, is to be changed so that the phrase “immediately before the election of all substitutes” replaces the phrase “immediately after the election of all substitutes.”



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 32, Decree 14, “The Provincial Congregation,” pg. 369–372 [312–329].

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