THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ORDER OR OF THE FRATERNITY
Our Fraternity, led by the Holy Spirit, is an integral part of the Mystical Body of Christ through which the brothers, united in following Christ, contribute to the building up of the Church in love by various offices and ministries.
Let the brothers, therefore, feel obligated to favor the good of the Church and the Fraternity according to their own grace and vocation, so that they may be fully incorporated into the mystery of Christ.
In order to strengthen the spiritual and visible unity of our Order, chapters and ministers bind the members together and, in a spirit of service, exercise offices and responsibilities received from God through the ministry of the Church.
ARTICLE 1: THE STRUCTURE OF THE ORDER
Our Order or Fraternity, as far as its government is concerned, is divided into provinces, vice-provinces, custodies and houses or local fraternities; these structures, taken individually, are true fraternities.
A province is a group of brothers and local fraternities having its own territory presided over by a provincial minister.
A vice-province is a part of the Order established in a particular territory entrusted to some province or directly subject to the general minister and presided over by a vice-provincial as vicar of the provincial or general minister.
A custody or mission is a group of brothers who are dependent on a province and engaged in missionary work in some determined territory and governed by a superior regular as vicar of the provincial minister.
A local fraternity is a group made up of at least three professed brothers who dwell in a legitimately established house presided over by a local superior or guardian.
The general minister with the consent of the definitory can decide that a particular local fraternity or house is immediately dependent on himself. If the situation warrants it, it may have its own statutes.
Whatever in these Constitutions is said of a province also applies to a vice-province and custody unless the contrary is evident from the nature of the case or from the text or context.
It is the responsibility of the general minister with the consent of the definitory, after consulting the Conference of Major Superiors of the region, as well as the provincial ministers and definitories concerned, to decide on the establishment, union, division, alteration, or suppression of provinces, observing the requirements of law.
In the same way, because of particular circumstances, the general minister with the consent of the definitory can establish provinces consisting of a number of regions. Such provinces may have special statutes approved by the general minister with the consent of the definitory. Should there ever be a difficulty in applying the Constitutions in these [statutes], the general minister with the definitory can advise concerning the more appropriate way of proceeding.
For the brothers to constitute a new province, there must be a sufficient number of them according to local conditions. The new province must be able to contribute to both an apostolic witness and the life of the Order, and have a certain geographical unity.
The general minister with the consent of the definitory, after consulting the brothers in perpetual vows, appoints the major superiors and definitors of new jurisdictions and determines the composition of the first chapter.
It is the responsibility of the provincial minister, with the consent of the definitory, after obtaining the consent of the chapter, to establish houses canonically, observing the prescriptions of law.
It pertains to the general minister, however, with the consent of the definitory, to suppress houses, either at the request of the interested party, observing strictly the prescriptions of the first paragraph concerning the required consent, or for some other cause, observing the norms of law.
If it is an urgent case, the vote of the provincial chapter is not required, but, if the establishment of a house is involved, both the consent of the provincial definitory and that of the general minister and his definitory is required.
Each brother, incorporated into the Order by profession, is a member of the province, vice-province or custody for which the major superior has accepted his profession.
Seniority in the fraternity is determined by temporary profession.
It pertains to the general minister, after consulting his definitory, considering the good of the whole Order and the needs of the provinces or individual brothers, and listening to the respective provincial ministers and their definitories, to send brothers from one province to another either temporarily or, with the consent of the definitory, permanently.
Let the provincial superiors, in a spirit of fraternal collaboration, be willing to meet such needs by sending brothers temporarily into another province.
Each brother exercises his right to vote only in one circumscription of the Order, unless he has it in another territory as well by reason of office. Those who have been sent into another circumscription by reason of service exercise rights only in that circumscription and not in their own. But brothers who for another reason dwell in a different circumscription exercise rights only in their own circumscription.
ARTICLE II: SUPERIORS AND OFFICES IN GENERAL
Under the supreme authority of the Supreme Pontiff, these are the superiors of the Order with ordinary power in their own right: the general minister in the whole Order, the provincial minister in his province, and the local superior or guardian in his fraternity.
There are also superiors with ordinary but vicarious power: the general vicar, the provincial vicar, the vice provincial, the superiors regular, and the local vicar.
All the above, with the exception of the guardian and his vicar, are major superiors.
Whatever is said in these Constitutions concerning the provincial ministers applies equally to the vice provincials and superiors regulars, unless the contrary is evident by nature of the case or from the text and context.
Offices in the Order are conferred by either election or appointment.
In conferring offices let the brothers proceed with a proper intention, simply and canonically.
For the good of the Order an appropriate preliminary consultation concerning those to be elected may be made, but it must be made in case of those to be appointed.
If an election requires confirmation, it must be requested within eight days of available time.
Let the brothers, as true minors, not be ambitious for office; but if they are called to it by the confidence of the brothers, they should not obstinately refuse to serve as a superior or in some other office.
Since we are an Order of brothers, according to the will of Saint Francis and the genuine Capuchin tradition, any brother in perpetual vows may assume any office or position excepting those that flow from Sacred Orders; if there is a question of superiors, a minimum of three years after perpetual profession is required for validity.
ARTICLE III: THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ENTIRE ORDER
The general chapter, the eminent sign of the union and solidarity of the entire Fraternity gathered together as one by means of its representatives, enjoys supreme authority in the Order.
The ordinary chapter, announced and convoked by the general minister, is celebrated every six years near to the solemnity of Pentecost, unless the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, judges another time of the year more appropriate.
For special reasons, in addition to the ordinary chapter, the general minister with the consent of the definitory may convoke an extraordinary chapter in which matters of great importance to the life and activity of the Order are discussed.
The following have active voice in a general chapter, whether ordinary or extraordinary: the general minister, the general definitors, the former general minister from the immediately preceding six-year term, provincial ministers, the general secretary, the general procurator, vice provincials, and the delegates of the provinces and custodies.
The provincial vicar goes to the chapter when the provincial minister is prevented by a grave cause known to the general minister or if the office of the provincial minister is vacant.
After the announcement of a general chapter, delegates and alternate delegates to the general chapter shall be elected by all brothers in perpetual vows in every province that has at least one hundred professed brothers.
A province is to elect an additional delegate and alternate for every two hundred professed brothers beyond the first two hundred.
This election is to be carried out in a manner established by a provincial chapter. The results of the election shall be published at least three months before the chapter.
Likewise, one delegate and alternate are elected in the custodies for every one hundred professed brothers.
For the election of delegates from the custodies which individually do not have one hundred professed brothers, after consulting the brothers involved, electoral groups shall be formed by the general minister with the consent of the definitory. These groups shall elect one delegate and an alternate for every one hundred professed brothers. As far as possible, geographical and cultural affinity should be taken into account in forming the electoral groups.
In special circumstances recognized and approved by the general minister with the consent of the definitory, electoral groups of custodies which do not total one hundred professed brothers may elect a delegate and an alternate who may come to the chapter with full capitular rights.
In an ordinary general chapter the general minister, who acquires full authority over the entire Order and all the brothers, is to be elected first, as prescribed by the ‘Rite of Celebrating the General Chapter’.
The outgoing general minister may be immediately elected but only for another six years.
Eight general definitors are then elected, as decreed in the ‘Rite of Celebrating the General Chapter’, of whom four at the most can be from those elected in the previous chapter.
The outgoing general minister has only active voice in the election of the general definitors.
The general vicar is elected from the eight definitors and, thereby, becomes first definitor.
The duty of the general definitors is to assist the general minister in the government of the entire Order according to the norms of the Constitutions and the statutes of the general curia as approved by the general chapter.
Matters pertaining to the preserving and renewing of our life as well as the development of apostolic activity are to be treated in the chapter.
Let all the brothers be consulted in an appropriate manner concerning the questions put before a chapter and their suggestions sent to the general minister.
All the capitulars should be informed in good time about the agenda drawn up for consideration by the general minister with the consent of his definitory. But the chapter itself decides the questions to be treated.
The general minister and his definitors should reside in Rome.
When the general minister is absent from Rome, the general vicar takes his place.
However the confirmation of provincial ministers, appointment of general visitators and other matters that he has reserved to himself are reserved to the general minister.
Should the general minister be impeded from exercising his office, the general vicar is to administer the Order in all things. He should report important matters to the general minister at an appropriate time.
If the general vicar is also impeded, the next definitor according to the order of election takes the place of the general minister.
If the office of the general minister becomes vacant, the general vicar succeeds him and notifies the Apostolic See of the vacancy as soon as possible.
Should the office of the general vicar become vacant more than a year before the chapter, after the election of an eighth definitor, a general vicar is to be elected by the general minister and his definitory by secret ballot from among the definitors.
Should the office of a general definitor become vacant more than a year before the chapter, the general minister and the definitory, after hearing the Conference of Major Superiors of the capitular group to which the definitor being replaced belonged, elect another who takes his place as the last definitor.
The following assist the general minister and his definitory in carrying out their responsibilities: the general secretary, the general procurator concerned with matters dealing with the Holy See, the general postulator responsible for dealing with the Holy See concerning the causes of the canonization of the Servants of God, the general assistant of the Secular Franciscan Order, the general secretary for the promotion of the missions, and other officials sufficient in number for expediting matters.
All of these are chosen and appointed by the general minister from different regions with the consent of the definitory.
The responsibilities and duties of the general curia are assigned and carried out according to the norms of the special statute approved by the general chapter.
A Plenary Council of the Order is intended to express the vital exchange between the whole Fraternity and its central government, to promote an awareness of the corresponsibility and cooperation of all the brothers, and to foster unity and harmony in the pluriformity of the Order.
The members of the Council are the general minister, the general definitors and delegates of the Conference of Major Superiors according to a certain proportion established by the general minister with the consent of the definitory.
The delegates need not be selected from among the members of the Conferences of Major Superiors.
The manner of their selection is determined by each Conference.
The responsibility of the Plenary Council is: to foster communication between the general definitory and the Conferences and among the Conferences themselves; to establish a center for reflection; to examine the problems of greater importance and propose solutions to the Order; to offer to the general minister and definitors through constructive collaboration assistance in bringing about an updated renewal of the Order; and to care for the growth of the Order and the formation of the brothers.
The Plenary Council has a consultative vote. In order that the value of its reflections as a directive norm may not be lost, it is appropriate that the general minister, by his judgement and with consent of the definitory, confirm with his authority the acts of the Council and propose them to the Order.
As a general rule, a Plenary Council of the Order may be convoked by the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, once or twice in a six-year term.
The Plenary Council is governed by its own statute that is drawn up by itself and approved by the general minister and his definitory.
ARTICLE IV: THE GOVERNMENT OF PROVINCES
The provincial chapter in which the members gather in fraternal communion in the name of the whole province is the primary provincial authority.
The ordinary provincial chapter is announced and convoked every three years by the provincial minister with permission of the general minister and his definitory. The faculty of permitting the celebration of a chapter, for a just cause, six months before or after a three year term belongs to the general minister with the consent of the definitory.
An extraordinary chapter, convoked by a provincial minister with the consent of the definitory, may be held in which the principal matters concerning the life and activity of a province and its vice-province and custody are discussed.
The general minister, if he presides, the provincial minister and the definitors of the province, the brothers to whom the provincial chapter shall give the right, the vice provincials, superiors regular, delegates of the province and delegates of the vice-provinces and custodies have active voice in ordinary and extraordinary chapters, attentive to those matters prescribed in number 113,5.
Provinces that wish to celebrate the Chapter with direct suffrage, that is, with the participation of all the perpetually professed brothers, decide this by a majority of two-thirds of all the perpetually professed brothers. This fact is then recorded in the directory for the celebration of the chapter. All the brothers in perpetual vows are bound to attend the chapter. Anyone prevented from attending must report the impediment to the provincial minister and his definitory who have the right of knowing and judging the matter. Only the brothers who are actually present in the chapter have the right to vote. Moreover, a vice provincial, superior regular and delegates of a vice-province and custody may participate in a provincial chapter according to the directory for the celebration of a provincial chapter.
Should the superior of a vice-province or custody be impeded for a serious reason known to the provincial minister and his definitory, or his office become vacant, the first or another councilor participates in a chapter if possible.
After the announcement of a provincial chapter, all of the currently perpetually professed brothers, excepting those belonging to other vice-provinces and custodies, may elect delegates and alternates, unless all the brothers are obliged to attend the chapter.
Brothers of the vice-provinces and custodies shall elect their delegates and their alternates.
The number of delegates whether of a province or of vice-provinces and custodies as well as the manner of electing them are determined by the provincial chapter.
Matters relating to the life and activity of the province are discussed in a provincial chapter concerning which all the brothers may be consulted beforehand.
All the capitulars are to be informed in due time about the list of proposed questions drawn up by the provincial minister and his definitory. The chapter itself, however, decides which business is to be treated.
In an ordinary chapter, the provincial minister is elected according to the directory for celebrating a chapter as approved by the provincial chapter itself.
The outgoing provincial minister, if he had been elected in the previous chapter, may be elected immediately but only for another three-year term.
According to the directory mentioned above, four provincial definitors are then elected, unless the general minister with the consent of the definitory decides that a larger number is more suitable; of these, only half may be from those elected in the previous chapter.
Then the provincial vicar is elected from among the definitors and becomes the first definitor by virtue of his election.
The outgoing provincial minister has only active voice in the election of the definitors.
The elected provincial minister exercises his office as a delegate of the general minister until his election is confirmed.
After the election or appointment of the provincial minister and definitors, the brothers continue to exercise their respective offices until other provisions are made. These norms, with the necessary modifications, also apply to vice-provinces and custodies.
The general minister with the consent of the definitors may appoint a provincial minister and definitors for serious reasons, after obtaining in writing the consultative vote of all the brothers in perpetual vows in the province; but this cannot be done for two consecutive three-year terms.
After this appointment, a chapter should be celebrated at an appropriate time to deal with provincial affairs.
It is the responsibility of the provincial vicar to help the provincial minister in whatever has been entrusted to him and, when the provincial minister is absent or impeded, to manage the affairs of the province, excepting those which the provincial minister has reserved to himself.
If the office of provincial minister becomes vacant, the provincial vicar is bound to have immediate recourse to the general minister and governs the province until he receives further instructions.
Should the vacancy occur more than eighteen months before the provincial chapter, the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, after a consultative vote of all the brothers in perpetual vows, shall appoint a new minister to complete the three-year term. When it is completed, a chapter is celebrated.
If the provincial vicar is impeded, the next definitor in line exercises his office.
When the office of a provincial definitor becomes vacant more than a year before the provincial chapter, the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, after hearing the provincial minister and his definitory, shall appoint another definitor who then becomes the last definitor. If the office of the provincial vicar becomes vacant, the provincial minister and his definitory elect by secret ballot another provincial vicar from the body of the definitory. The general minister is informed of this matter.
The provincial secretary, as well as officials needed for business transacted in the provincialate and, if necessary, for directing other special offices, may be appointed by the provincial minister, with the consent of the deffnitory, from among the brothers in perpetual vows.
The provincial secretary is subject only to the provincial minister. It is the responsibility of the provincial chapter, however, to decide whether other officials may be accountable to the provincial minister alone.
It is recommended that commissions be established in individual provinces by the provincial minister, with the consent of the definitory, to deal with special matters.
Conferences consisting of provincial ministers, vice provincials and superiors regular of a particular region or territory, are established by the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, to promote collaboration among provinces, vice-provinces and custodies, with Episcopal Conferences, with Unions of Major Superiors of Men and Women, to deal with current questions, and to preserve uniformity of administration, as far as this is possible.
These Conferences have their own statutes approved by the general minister with the consent of the definitory and meet at least once a year.
It is within their competence to carry out the duties entrusted to them by the Constitutions, by their own statutes and by the general minister, and to provide for the common good of the Order in their territory, as well as to promulgate, for their territories, special norms. In order to take effect, these norms must be approved by the respective councils and by the general minister with the consent of his definitory.
In order to foster solidarity between the brothers of our Order living in a particular continent, let major superiors take care that the brothers, by united efforts, pursue updated forms of Franciscan witness that transcend the boundaries of their own nations or political areas to renew Christian life and promote peace, justice and tranquility.
Article V: The Government of Vice-Provinces
Among the principal goals of vice-provinces is the implantation of the Order in a particular Church to give Gospel witness to the Franciscan charism.
For this reason care must be taken in the viceprovinces for the vocations of inhabitants of the place. To this end that life and pastoral activity must be properly fostered which are adapted to the conditions of the region.
Let a province send, as far as possible, as many religious to a vice-province committed to it as the needs of the vice-province require.
In selecting religious to be sent or recalled, the superiors, after listening to the vice provincial and his council, should consider the specific qualifications of the brothers in relation to local conditions, the formation of the young and the apostolate exercised in the viceprovince.
The vice provincial, with the consent of the council, considering the needs of the vice province and with the consent of the provincial and general ministers, may enter into appropriate agreements with other provinces or Conferences of Major Superiors. These agreements are to be submitted to the provincial and general minister for ratification.
A vice provincial with two councilors governs each vice-province.
It belongs to the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, and after consulting the provincial minister, to determine a larger number of counciIors.
The vice provincial and councilors are elected for a three-year term, after which they can be re-elected. The vice provincial may be immediately re-elected for only another three-year term.
The vice-provincial chapter determines whether the outgoing vice provincial has passive voice in the election of councilors.
The vice provincial and councilors may be elected by all the brothers in perpetual profession, in the manner established by the vice-provincial chapter and after they have obtained consent of the provincial or general minister. If there is a just cause, the general minister with the consent of the definitory can permit in particular cases the election of superiors and councilors by a chapter with delegates.
If the election by the chapter is done by direct suffrage, the vice provincial, with the consent of the provincial or general minister, himself convokes the chapter in which the brothers present have an active voice as well as the provincial or general minister, if they preside. Whatever is said for the provincial chapter concerning brothers prevented from participating in a chapter is valid in this instance.
When the voting takes place outside a chapter, let the votes be tallied in the vice-province itself by the vice provincial, his councilors and two brothers elected by the local chapter of the place where the tally is taken in the presence of the provincial or general minister or the respective delegate. The elections are then promulgated.
The elected vice provincial exercises his office as the delegate of the provincial or general minister until the election is confirmed.
From the moment his election is confirmed, the vice provincial enjoys juridical power to exercise his office with ordinary vicarious power. At the same time, the faculties spoken of in numbers 19 and 36 of the Constitutions should be expressly conferred on him by the provincial or general minister.
The provincial minister then informs the general minister of that election.
With the permission of the provincial or general minister, the vice provincial may convoke a chapter to treat various matters. It is appropriate that the provincial or general minister preside and have active voice.
Should the vice provincial be absent or impeded, the first councilor or, if he is impeded, the next councilor in order of election takes his place.
Should the office of viceprovincial or councilor be vacant for whatever reason, the matter is be referred to the provincial or general minister who shall proceed as prescribed in number 129.
In the statutes drawn up by the vice-provincial chapter and approved by the general or provincial minister, other matters concerning government shall be treated. These statutes may determine, among other things, the vocals of a chapter to take charge of various matters as well as those matters that can be dealt with only with the permission of the provincial or general minister.
The vice provincial is to meet with his councilors at least four times a year. He needs their counsel or consent in the same cases that, according to the Constitutions, the provincial minister needs the counsel or consent of his definitory.
Let him propose to the provincial or general minister innovations that involve burdens of greater moment for the province or vice-province.
ARTICLE VI: THE GOVERNMENT OF CUSTODIES
A superior regular with two councilors governs each custody.
The number of councilors may be increased to four by the provincial ministers with the consent of the definitory after consulting those concerned and according to the need or welfare of the custody that requests it. The general minister is to be informed if this is done.
A superior regular and councilors may be elected for a three-year term by the brothers with perpetual vows assigned to the custody, while being attentive to those matters contained in number 113, 5. If there is a just cause, the general minister with the consent of the definitory can permit in particular cases the election of superiors and councilors by a chapter with delegates.
A superior regular may be immediately reelected but only to another three-year term.
The chapter of a custody determines whether an outgoing superior regular may have a passive voice in the election of the councilors.
To hold an election, either by a chapter or some other way, the consent of the provincial minister is necessary; if he presides [at the chapter], he has active voice.
All those are considered members of a custody who have received letters of obedience for missionary work from the general minister, even if temporarily, as well as, all brothers affiliated to a custody by profession, even if they live elsewhere for formation or some other reason.
The election of a superior regular and councilors takes place either in a chapter with direct suffrage in which only the brothers who are present have active voice, or in another way as the superior regular shall decide with the consent of the councilors, after weighing the conditions of the custody and listening to the wishes of the brothers, while being attentive to what is contained in number 113,5. The same norms prescribed for the provincial chapter apply to those prevented from going to the chapter.
It belongs to the provincial minister to confirm an election; if he is not present, the elections are promulgated and the elected superior regular exercises his office as delegate of the provincial minister until his election is confirmed. The provincial minister is to notify the general minister of the election that has taken place.
From the moment of his confirmation, the superior regular enjoys ordinary vicarious power to fulfill his office. At the same time the provincial minister should confer upon him the faculties mentioned in numbers 19 and 36 of the Constitutions.
The general minister with the consent of his definitory may appoint a superior regular and his councilors for grave reasons, after consulting the minister provincial and his definitory and having obtained a written consultative vote of the brothers of the custody.
Should a superior regular be absent or impeded, the first councilor or the next councilor in order of election, if the first is impeded, takes his place.
Should the office of the superior regular or councilors of the custody become vacant, for whatever reason, the matter should be referred to the provincial minister who may follow the norms given in number 129 making the needed adaptations.
The superior regular should meet with his councilors at least four times a year.
He needs their counsel or consent in the same cases that, according to the Constitutions, the provincial rninister needs the counsel or consent of his definitory.
It is proper that a custody have statutes, approved by the provincial minister with the consent of the definitory, in which matters of government of greater moment are determined.
ARTICLE VII: LOCAL GOVERNMENT
At the provincial chapter, or afterwards at an appropriate time, the provincial minister with the consent of his definitory shall form the local fraternities and appoint local superiors according to number ll5,3, after consulting the brothers as much as possible and paying attention to preserving the form of our life, to fostering fraternal relationships, as well as to the special services to be done in individual houses.
The fraternities and their superiors in viceprovinces and custodies are to be established in the same way, keeping in mind their special circumstances.
Local superiors are appointed by the provincial minister with the consent of the definitory for a three-year term. They may be appointed for a second or, in case of manifest necessity, a third three-year term, even in the same house if there are just reasons.
Those who have exercised the office of local superior for six or, in case of necessity, for nine consecutive years shall remain free from such a responsibility for at least one year.
In each fratemity a vicar is to be appointed by the provincial minister with the consent of the definitory. He has the responsibility of assisting the superior as a councilor in governing the community and of governing the fraternity himself when [the superior] is absent or prevented or his office becomes vacant.
In every house with at least six brothers, in addition to the vicar, who is the first councilor by law, let one or two councilors be elected by all the perpetually professed brothers. Their responsibility is to advise the local superior in spiritual and material matters.
In matters of greater importance, the councilors have a deliberative vote according to the Constitutions and regional and provincial statutes.
When the guardian and vicar are absent or impeded, the brother designated by the norms of the provincial chapter presides over the fratemity.
If the office of the local superior becomes vacant more than six months before a provincial chapter, another shall be appointed by the provincial minister with the consent of the definitory. Should the office be vacated within six months of the provincial chapter, the vicar govems the fratemity.
The local chapter consists of all the professed brothers.
In the chapter loving obedience, a distinctive characteristic of our fratemity by which the brothers serve one another, finds its best expression, the creativity of everyone is fostered, and personal gifts contribute to the good of all.
It is the responsibility of the local chapter, under the guidance of the guardian, to strengthen the fraternal spirit, promote an awareness of the common good among all the brothers, establish a dialogue concerning everything that regards fraternal life, especially when it touches on fostering prayer, preserving poverty, and promoting fraternal formation so that the will of God may be sought together.
The local chapter is to be celebrated frequently in the course of the year and the major superiors should effectively promote and animate it at times by their own presence.
Let the superiors not only inform but also consult the brothers by suitable means about matters that should be treated in a chapter.
The votations of a local chapter are consultative unless universal or particular law determines otherwise.
Only perpetually professed brothers have the right to carry out elections and to vote regarding the admittance of brothers to profession according to the norms of the Constitutions.
In the generalate and provincialate, in the houses of the vice provincial and superior regular, as well as in each of our houses there should be an archive in which all necessary documents are preserved diligently and with confidentiality and all matters worthy of remembrance are accurately recorded by the one to whom this has been entrusted.
Let there be an inventory of the documents kept in the archive.