Chapter 7 §1
“THE FRIARS ARE BOUND TO OBEY BROTHER FRANCIS AND HIS SUCCESSORS”
The structures and government of the Order and the administration of goods
THE STRUCTURES OF THE ORDER AND GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL
The structures of the Order
The Order of Friars Minor is made up of friars incorporated into Provinces, Custodies or Foundations immediately subject to the Minister General and governed in accordance with the norms of universal and proper law by the same Minister General with his Definitory.
§1 The Province, the basic unit in the life and mission of the Order, is made up of friars incorporated in it, living together in Houses and governed by the Minister Provincial with his Definitory in accordance with universal and proper law.
§2 The Province of the Holy Places, however, is called the Custody of the Holy Land, by reason of tradition; its special character is determined in its own Statutes.
§1 The competent authority for the erection, division, union, and suppression of Provinces is the Minister General with the consent of his Definitory.1
§2 A new Province can be erected when there are, in the judgement of the General Definitory, all the elements necessary for its establishment and for leading the life and mission of the Order in accordance with these Constitutions and the General Statutes.
§1 At the proposal of the Provincial Definitories concerned, the Minister General can, in special circumstances, erect se?veral Houses or groups of friars of one or more Provinces into an autonomous or non-autonomous Custody, which is go?verned by a Custos. He must, however, have consulted all concerned beforehand and have the prior consent of his own Definitory.
§2 Unless it is otherwise stated, an autonomous Custody, which has not yet been constituted a Province due to special circumstance is equivalent to a Province: whatever the Constitutions have to say about Provinces and their government applies to an autonomous Custody and its government.
The prescriptions of the General Statutes are to be observed in setting up other entities required by the needs of life and activity of the Order.
Authorities of the Order and offices in general
The supreme authority of the Order resides in the General Chapter, that of a Province in the Provincial Chapter and that of an autonomous Custody in the Custodial Chapter, in accordance with these Constitutions.2
The following are Major Superiors in the Order: the Minister General, the Minister Provincial, the Custos of the Holy Land, the Custos of an autonomous Custody and their Vicars.3
§1 The Minister General enjoys ordinary authority over each and every friar, as well as over Provinces and Houses. He exercises it alone or with his Definitory or with the Plenary Council of the Order in accordance with universal and proper law.4
§2 The Minister Provincial and the Custos of an autonomous Custody rule his Province or Custody with ordinary authority, alone or with his Definitory or with his respective Council, in accordance with universal and proper law of the Order.5
§3 The Guardian rules his House with ordinary authority, alone or with the local Chapter, or respectively and in the cases specified by law, with the discretorium if there is one, in accordance with these Constitutions and the Statutes.
§1 When universal or proper law requires the consent of his council, the Minister General or Provincial acts invalidly contrary to the vote of the General or Provincial Definitory respectively. So too the Guardian acts invalidly contrary to the vote of the local Chapter or discretorium.
§2 However, if for valid action, they are required only to ask advice, Ministers and Guardians are bound to seek the opinion of their Definitory and local Chapter or discretorium, but they are not obliged to follow it if they think the matter should be decided otherwise. In an urgent case they may ask advice even individually, by letter or another means of social communication.6
Even when consent or consultation is not prescribed by law, the Ministers and Guardians are to listen willingly to the friars in matters which concern the fraternity, and, though it is up to them to decide in such cases, they are not to act too easily against a consensus of the friars.7
§1 The following are offices of government in the Order: the Minister General, Vicar General, Definitors General, Visitator and Delegate General, Minister Provincial, Vicar Provincial, Definitors Provincial, Custos, Vicar and Discreets of the Holy Land, Guardians, Vicars and Discreets of Houses.
§2 All other offices do not involve government: they are offices in a broad sense or positions.
§3 All offices are conferred in accordance with universal and proper law.
The Minister Provincial and other officials of a Province cannot be, at the same time, officials of the General Curia.
No office or position of any kind that is to be exercised outside the Order may be accepted without consultation with the fraternity and without the permission of the respective Minister or Guardian.
The conferring, exercise and loss of offices
§1 Offices and positions of the Order are conferred either by election that is duly confirmed, by postulation in accordance with the law which is admitted by the Minister General with the consent of his Definitory, or by appointment which is preceded by an appropriate consultation.8
§2 There are three methods of election in the Order: by written ballot, by ballot with tokens, by roll call.
§3 Election takes place ordinarily in a Chapter or Capitular Congressus, and extraordinarily in a meeting of the General or Provincial Definitory, in accordance with the Constitutions and Statutes.
§4 In a spirit of co-responsibility and fraternal service the friars must accept election to the offices mentioned in article 178.9
All solemnly professed friars are eligible for the offices and positions of the Order, provided that they have the requirements and qualifications established by universal law or by the proper law of the Order.
§1 In conferring the office of Minister General it is required for validity that the candidate be solemnly professed at least ten years; for the other general offices of government and for the offices of Major Superiors it is required that they be solemnly professed at least five years.10
§2 Other offices are to be conferred in accordance with the Statutes, without prejudice to universal law.
§1 Unless some other provision has been made, one who has been elected by the Chapter or Definitory, cannot exercise authority until he has been confirmed by the President of the election. The President, however, is to confirm immediately a friar who has been properly elected if he is found suitable and there is no just cause in the way.
§2 If the confirmation of an election pertains to the President, and he is elected to the office, confirmation then devolves on the voting member who is senior by first profession.
§1 The Ministers and Guardians are to carry out their ser?vice of authority with humility; and docile to God’s will in fulfilling their duty, they are to watch over the friars as children of God and they are to encourage their voluntary obedience with respect for the human person.11
§2 All the friars who hold an office or position are to keep in mind always that they are bound to secrecy, whether natural or entrusted.
§1 When they enter into office, the Ministers are bound to make the Profession of Faith personally according to the formula approved by the Apostolic See.12
§2 The Ministers are to make their profession of faith before the respective Chapter or the President of the Chapter or his delegate; if they have been appointed, they are to do this before the one who has appointed them or his delegate.
§1 Offices are lost by the expiry of the term, by resignation accepted by the competent authority, by transfer, by removal and by deprivation, with due regard for universal and proper law.13
§2 An office is also lost by acceptance of another office, whether within or outside the Order, which is incompatible with it.