A Topic at the 35th General Congregation


GC 31, Decree 17

GC 32, Decree 11, n. 27-33

Guidelines for Local Superiors and for the Relationship Between the Superior and the Director of the Work (Rome: General Curia, 1998)

Letter of Father General on the Account of Conscience (Rome, 21 February 2005)

The last time the Society addressed the vow of Obedience was at the 31st General Congregation, in 1965 and 1966. That Congregation met to elect Fr. Pedro Arrupe as the new Superior General and to bring the Society more in line with its founding charism after the Second Vatican Council.

The vow of Obedience remains central to the Society's apostolic availability and its union of minds and hearts. However, there are new challenges to obedience today which should be discussed by this Congregation.

In many parts of the world, respect for authority in general is eroding. Given the strong value placed on individualism and autonomy today, it is difficult for many to understand how another human being can communicate God's will to another. Proper respect for individual rights, the needs each person has for realizing his full potential as a human being, and a variety of issues around privacy place challenges on the free exercise of the manifestation of conscience - the centerpiece of Ignatius' vision of obedience.

Many family issues have an effect on one's ability to respect authority freely. Delayed affective maturity can be problematic during formation. The older candidates are, the more experience they have living independently and the more difficult it can be to live under obedience. Finally, the relationship between a local superior and the director of a work should be discussed, especially in the cases where the director may not be a Jesuit.

How can the true spirit of obedience be renewed in the Society for today? How can superiors be better formed and supported? How can the manifestation be done better, to achieve its purpose - that the superior know his subject at the level of his conscience? How is obedience necessarily different for Jesuits at different age groups?


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