every group, the USG has developed its own statutes. The first text of the
Statutes, drafted and approved in 1962, was revised and renewed in 1972. Behind
the current Statutes, approved by the Apostolic See in 1998, there is another
revision, carried out in 1990.
Below is the complete text of the current Statutes:
I. Institution and purpose
The Union of Superiors General (USG) is an organization according to pontifical law created on 3 January 1955 by the Sacred Congregation of Religious as a public juridical personality (c. 709).
Whilst always preserving each Institute's own autonomy, nature and spirit, the USG proposes to promote the life and mission of the individual Institutes that serve the Church in order to facilitate more effective co-operation between them and achieve more fruitful contacts with the Holy See and the Hierarchy of the Church (c. 708).
All Superiors General of the Religious Institutes or Societies of Apostolic Life recognized by pontifical law are members by right. The Abbots Primate and the heads of monastic congregations are to be included amongst these Superiors General.
Superiors General of Institutes recognized by diocesan law may become associate members provided that they notify their request for membership in writing to the Union Council.
III. Subordinate bodies
The Union of Superiors General comprises the following bodies:
a) the General Assembly
b) the Union Council
c) the Council for relations between the Congregations for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life and the Union
d) the Council for Relations between the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples and the Union
e) the General Secretariat
f) the various Commissions (if any are in existence).
IV. General Assembly
The General Assembly consists of all the Superiors General who are by right members of the Union. Those Superiors General who cannot personally take part in the Assemblies can delegate their Vicar or another member of their General Council or their Procurator General. In any case, whenever votes or elections are concerned, the Superior General's delegate must be in possession of a written authority.
Amongst other matters, the General Assembly will deal with:
a) communications from the Holy See
b) the exchange and study of information and ideas of common interest
c) deciding the Union's viewpoint on issues where it is necessary or appropriate for the Union to take a joint position
d) creating or disbanding Commissions
e) election of the Union's delegates to the "Synodus Episcoporum" and all other elections which, according to this Constitution, fall within the responsibility of the General Assembly
f) examination and approval of the annual financial accounts presented by the Council; deciding the annual contributions of members towards the Union's own expenditure.
In a correctly convened General Assembly when an important issue is to be discussed and voted upon, the majority decision of those present voted in accordance with Canon 119 will be sufficient to render the outcome lawful and valid.
The General Assembly must be convened at least once a year and each time that an election is needed or an important question to be discussed.
V. The President
The Union has a President who exercises his functions in accordance with the Constitution.
The President is elected by a secret paper ballot of the General Assembly on a majority vote as required by Canon 119, after an opinion poll or preliminary ballot.
All members by right of the General Assembly have an active vote, whilst those resident in or around Rome have only a passive vote.
The President holds office for three years and can always stand for re-election. However, if he ceases to be a Superior General he automatically ceases to be President.
It is the duty of the President to:
a) Represent the Union officially
b) Convene and preside over the General Assembly and the Union Council
c) Convene and, directly or by means of his delegate, preside over meetings to elect the various groups provided for by the Constitution
d) Appoint, after consultation with the Council, one of its members to deal with possible issues which may be of common interest to the Men's and Women's Unions of Superiors General
e) Appoint, after consultation with the Council, Union representatives or delegates for particular organizations or circumstances
f) Appoint, with the Council's agreement, the Union's Secretary General and its Treasurer, as well as any other permanent staff in the Secretariat.
VI. The Council
The Council is the executive organ of the Union of Superiors General and must be convened at least four times each year.
It is composed of the President of the Union, the Vice President and ten Councilors who represent the various groups of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, i.e. Regular Canons, Monks, Mendicant Orders, Regular Clerics, Clerical Religious Congregations (who have four elected representatives); Congregations of Lay Religious and Societies of Apostolic Life.
The Vice President is elected by the General Assembly by means of a secret paper ballot and on a majority vote in accordance with Canon 119.
The Vice President deputizes for the President when the latter is temporarily absent or otherwise prevented from performing his duties. The Vice President becomes President "ad complendum triennium" when the office of President becomes vacant. In this case, and whenever the office of Vice President is vacant, the next General Assembly proceeds with the election of a new Vice President "ad complendum triennium".
Each Councilor is elected respectively by the Superiors General of the group he or she is to represent. Voting is again in accordance with Canon 119.
The Vice President and Councilors remain in office for the current three years provided always that they are still Superiors General. If a vacancy occurs amongst the Councilors, then the respective group, properly convened by the President, must proceed with a new election "ad complendum triennium" within three months of the vacancy arising.
Under the direction of the President, it is the Council's task to organize the Union's activities, in particular:
a) to express the opinions or agreements provided for by the Constitution, in accordance with the regulations of Canon 127.1
b) to prepare for the General Assemblies
c) to ensure the efficiency of the General Secretariat
d) to appoint the members of Permanent Commissions created by the General Assembly and ensure their proper working
e) to create and organize temporary Commissions
f) to deal with urgent matters for which a General Assembly cannot be convened, with the obligation to inform the said Assembly of those matters
g) if any difficulties arise from the present Constitution, the Council has the power to decide on the interpretation of the Constitution, with the obligation of informing the next General Assembly of the matter
h) to promote, in agreement with the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, contacts with the Conferences of Major Superiors
i) to supervise administration of finances.
VII. The General Secretariat
A General Secretariat will work under the supervision of the Council, such Secretariat to consist of the Secretary General, the Treasurer and such assistants as may be necessary. The President, with the agreement of the Council, appoints the Secretary General and the Treasurer for a renewable term of three years. The Secretary General must be a religious or a member of a Society of Apostolic Life.
It is the task of the Secretary General to:
a) ensure the proper organization of the General Assemblies and meetings of the Councils and Commissions
b) write up the Minutes of the General Assemblies and the Council meetings, in which he will take part
c) ensure proper administration of the Union's official communications, correspondence and records
d) direct the work of any assistants.
It is the task of the Treasurer to ensure proper financial administration of the Union.
Commissions may be permanent or temporary.
The Commissions created by the General Assembly are composed of a variable number of members, chosen from amongst the Superiors General, who may choose to be represented by a delegate. Likewise, every Commission may call for assistance from outside experts.
The members of each Permanent Commission name a President to guide their activities and a secretary to record their findings and facilitate their work in every possible way.
The Permanent Commissions will convey the results of their work to the General Assembly by either written or verbal reports, as necessitated by individual cases and circumstances.
The temporary Commissions (if any) appointed by the Council may have members who are not Superiors General and such Commissions will act in accordance with guidelines laid down by the said Council.
The Justice and Peace Commission follows its own Constitution approved, for the USG, by the General Assembly.
IX. Election Procedures
Every General Assembly that involves elections must be convened in writing and, as far as possible, with two months' advance notice.
At such duly convened Assemblies, the Union's members by right can participate in person or through their delegate, appointed in accordance with Article 6 of this present Constitution. In this case, however, the delegate must be in possession of a written authority.
Elections are held in accordance with the rules of common law and with the terms explicitly set out in this present Constitution.
Elections for delegates to the Synod of Bishops will observe the regulations sanctioned by the "Ordo Synodi".
An Assembly convened in accordance with Article 31 of the present Constitution may lawfully and justly proceed with the planned election(s) without making any allowances for the absence of members.
X. The Constitution
The General Assembly must approve any potential modification of the Constitution by at least a two-thirds majority vote. Such modification must then be ratified by the Holy See.