Government of the society

The society is headed by a Superior General with the formal title Praepositus Generalis, Latin for “provost-general”, more commonly called Father General or General. He is elected by the General Congregation for life or until he resigns; he is confirmed by the Pope and has absolute authority in running the society. The current Superior General of the Jesuits is the Venezuelan Arturo Sosa who was elected on 14 October 2016.[114]

The Father General is assisted by “assistants”, four of whom are “assistants for provident care” and serve as general advisors and a sort of inner council, and several other regional assistants, each of whom heads an “assistancy”, which is either a geographic area (for instance the North American Assistancy) or an area of ministry (for instance higher education). The assistants normally reside with Father General in Rome and along with others form an advisory council to the General. A vicar general and secretary of the society run day-to-day administration. The General is also required to have an admonitor, a confidential advisor whose task is to warn the General honestly and confidentially when he might be acting imprudently or contrary to the church’s magisterium. The central staff of the General is known as the Curia.[114]

The society is divided into geographic provinces, each of which is headed by a Provincial Superior, generally called Father Provincial, chosen by the General. He has authority over all Jesuits and ministries in his area, and is assisted by a socius who acts as a sort of secretary and chief of staff. With the approval of the General, the provincial appoints a novice master and a master of tertians to oversee formation, and rectors of local communities of Jesuits.[115] For better cooperation and apostolic efficacy in each continent, the Jesuit provinces are grouped into six Jesuit Conferences worldwide.

Each Jesuit community within a province is normally headed by a rector who is assisted by a “minister”, from the Latin for “servant”, a priest who helps oversee the community’s day-to-day needs.[116]

The General Congregation is a meeting of all of the assistants, provincials, and additional representatives who are elected by the professed Jesuits of each province. It meets irregularly and rarely, normally to elect a new superior general and/or to take up some major policy issues for the Order. The General meets more regularly with smaller councils composed of just the provincials.[117]

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