The General Congregation is an assembly of the Jesuit representatives from all parts of the world, and serves as the highest authority in the Society of Jesus. A General Congregation is always summoned on the death or resignation of the administrative head of the order, called the Superior General or Father General, to choose his successor, and it may be called at other times if circumstances warrant. A smaller congregation of worldwide representatives meets every three years to discuss internal business and to decide the need for a general congregation.
Through its four-century history, the Society has convened 36 general congregations.
First General Congregation
The first General Congregation took place in 1558, when Father Diego Laynez was elected Superior General. It had been delayed for two years after St. Ignatius’ death because of a war between King Philip II of Spain and Pope Paul IV.
General Congregation 31
General Congregation 31 met during 1965 and 1966, meeting initially for several months, from 7 May to 17 July 1965, then breaking off for over a year and then reconvening for two more months from 8 September to 17 November 1966. GC31 issued 56 decrees and elected Pedro Arrupe as the 28th Superior General.
General Congregation 32
General Congregation 32 was held between 1974–75. In particular, Decree 4 of the congregation highlighted a Jesuit commitment for the promotion of justice and issues related to world peace, and emphasized the importance of inculturation of the church in non-Western cultures. This was in many ways due to the large number of delegates coming from various parts of Africa and Asia, with eighteen of the twenty-one delegates from India being native Indians. These native Indians were seen to be "among the most articulate, self-assured and highly respected of the whole congregation."
General Congregation 33
General Congregation 33 took place in 1983.
General Congregation 34
General Congregation 34 took place in 1995. The following were among the decrees issued:
- Decree 2: Servants of Christ's Mission
- Decree 3: Our Mission and Justice
- Decree 4: Our Mission and Culture
- Decree 13: Cooperation with Laity in Mission
- Decree 17: Jesuits and University Life, following on from Decrees 28, 29 and 30 of General Congregation 31, Decree 4 of General Congregation 32 and Decree 1 of General Congregation 33, all of which considered the same subject.
General Congregation 35
General Congregation 35 took place in Rome between 7 January and 6 March, 2008. Adolfo Nicolás was elected as the new Father General. Pope Benedict XVI wrote to the congregation on 10 January and attended on 21 February.
General Congregation 36
General Congregation 36, the most recent, met in Rome at the Jesuit Curia in 2016, and installed Arturo Sosa as Superior General of the Order. It was called after Adolfo Nicolás announced his resignation in December 2014.
- Jesuit Curia in Rome, Father General, accessed 11 September 2018
- Jesuits, General Congregation 36, accessed 26 November 2018
- Boston College, General Congregation 31, accessed 27 November 2018
- "Decree 4, GC 32: Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice". Santa Clara University. 1975. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- O’Malley, John W. (19 November 1983). "The Jesuits' Congregation: A Historical View". America Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- Boston College, Office of University Mission and Ministry, General Congregations 32 and 34, accessed 18 October 2018
- General Congregation 34, Jesuits and University Life, accessed 18 October 2018
- General Congregation 35, accessed 10 September 2008
- GC35, Decree 1, accessed 10 September 2008
- "General Congregation 36". General Congregation 36. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
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