A decree from the 31st General Congregation made experimental proposals to improve the central government of the Society of Jesus, requesting that those proposals be “submitted to the judgment of the next General Congregation.” In response, the delegates to the 32nd General Congregation issued the decree below. It considers the distinction between general assistants and other counsellors to the superior general, concluding, in part, that “general counsellors should form a council which in its manner of working goes beyond the consultation of the individual counsellors.” The council would serve as a “regular and stable working group to collaborate organically with Father General in the formation of policy, in decision-making, and in planning execution.”
For more from the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.
A. Assistants and Counsellors of Father General
1. Decree 44 of the 31st General Congregation, in force experimentally until now,1 is definitively confirmed by the 32nd General Congregation, with however the following modifications:
a. At the end of I, 1, should be added: “who will also be general counsellors.”
b. I, 4, now reads as follows: “Even a general congregation called for business should proceed to a new election of general assistants. Former assistants may be reelected to the same office.”
c. At the end of II, 7, should be added: “At least the general counsellors will normally give their advice gathered together in council.”
d. At the end of II, 8, is added: “In addition to the four general counsellors elected by the general congregation as general assistants, Father General should name at least two more general counsellors, having first consulted the regional assistants and obtained the deliberative vote of the general assistants.”
2. All the contrary dispositions of previous general congregations, which were suspended by the 31st General Congregation (cf. I, 6; II, 9), are now definitively abrogated.
B. Recommendations Made to Father General
3. The General Congregation recommends to Father General the following:
a. The general counsellors should form a council which in its manner of working goes beyond the consultation of the individual counsellors. It will be a regular and stable working group to collaborate organically with Father General in the formation of policy, in decision-making, and in planning execution. It will not only take up problems proposed to it but also propose matters to be considered. Its members should examine together what matters ought to be treated, especially in the light of the varied perspectives of the different members. Finally, it will promote discernment regarding serious and universal matters.
b. Father General should give the care of some sector of the life of the Society or of some geographical region, or even of both, to each of the general counsellors.
c. A general assistant or general counsellor should not ordinarily remain in office for more than about eight years, nor should all of them be changed at the same time.
d. The regional assistants should be brought together as a group once a month for discussion of business.
e. A review should be undertaken of the organization and coordination of the administration of the General Curia by people expert in this matter. In this review, the possibility of lessening the number of Jesuits engaged in the central administration should be considered.
Meanwhile, every effort should be made to coordinate as much as possible the work of the different counselors and officials of the Curia; some form of structural intercommunication and collaboration should be encouraged. Father General should commit the special care of this matter to the Secretary of the Society.
C. Reviewing the System of World Secretariats
4. The 32nd General Congregation gives the General the mandate and the authority to review the system of world secretariats of the Society, suspending contrary decrees of previous general congregations until the next general congregation. In this review of the secretariats, however, the purposes intended by the previous general congregations should be kept in mind.
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 15, “Central Government of the Society,” pg. 373–374 [330–333].