The Qualities of a New Superior General

From Fr. Padberg’s talk on the History of the General Congregations

For full talk, click here.


First, its most important task obviously is to elect a general. As to the characteristics to be sought in that general, sometime read over and certainly pray over chapter two of the ninth part of the Constitutions, and then pray for whoever is the man chosen for the job. Let me summarize the six qualities that according to Ignatius in that chapter the general of the Society ought to have. [i]


First, "he should be closely united with God our Lord and intimate with him in prayer and all his actions. . . ." Secondly, he should "be a person whose example in the practice of all virtues is a help to the other members of the Society." Then Ignatius goes on to detail such virtues. As a third quality  "he ought to be endowed with great understanding and judgment. . ." with ability at discernment and the giving of advice. Fourth, he should "have a care to undertake enterprises and carry them to successful completion." Fifth, as Ignatius says, "has reference to the body, in regard to health, appearance and age along with the physical energies needed to fulfill his office." Sixth 'he ought to have extrinsic endowments . . .  such as reputation, high esteem and whatever else aids toward prestige with those within and without the Society."


And then, after all of these Ignatius ends up by saying "finally he ought to be one of those most outstanding in every virtue, most deserving in the Society, and known as such for a considerable time. If any of the previously mentioned qualities should be wanting, there should at least be no lack of great probity and of love for the Society nor of good judgment accompanied by sound learning." What more could you want?


[i] Constitutions, [723-735].