Governance within the Society: Father General

Father General Adolfo Nicolas
Father General Adolfo Nicolas
The Jesuit Curia in Rome has published another interview from ‘Conversations with Father General Adolfo Nicolás SJ’, who will be stepping down at the Superior General of the Society of Jesus at the 36th General Congregation later this year. 
The June 2016 ‘conversation’ looks at governance in the Society of Jesus, in relation to all the various aspects each province has to be aware of.  There are over 16,000 Jesuits working in different parts of the world today, and this multicultural reality presents both a richness and a challenge. Talking with Father Patrick Mulemi SJ, Director of Communications and Public Relations at the General Curia in Rome, he asks the Superior General what this multicultural reality means in terms of governance in the Society. 

Have you found that Jesuit governance differs from Province to Province? Can you give us some examples of how it might differ?

R. Yes, governance differs from Province to Province. Sometimes the difference is cultural and it reflects the general thinking and doing of people in Authority and leaders. Other times it is a question of personality; there are superiors that have more self-confidence and are always ready to listen to different opinions before deciding. There are also superiors that live in some kind of "cloud of un-clarity" and the Jesuits suffer because of it. Unfortunately, now and then, we come across the typical person that cannot listen and his decisions are always final. They suffer much and make others suffer as well.

Are there new models of governance coming to the fore?

R. Yes, without doubt. The systems that accompany the new Provinces of Spain and Brazil do not follow traditional paths and are being monitored to see whether they serve the Society´s way of life and the mission. What is important is not that they are new or different, but that they help the Society in this time of change, and that they help us better in our service of souls and the Church.

Are there any plans to allow Jesuit provincials in larger provinces who feel burdened by the Manifestation of Conscience to pass those duties onto assistants or "vice provincials"?

R. This is not a light question, in the least. We have been reflecting on this point with my Counsellors and in no way do we want to make any change in the vision of Saint Ignatius. For him the Account of Conscience was always linked to the mission, so that no Jesuit would be put in situations or tasks that would threaten his spiritual well-being or would imply a negative consequence for those we try to accompany or serve. If this principle is respected, the concrete form that things, times and ways are organized is left to the individual Provincial to decide.

Original article from the Jesuits Curia in Rome, Jesuits around the World Vol. XX, No. 12.