Chapter 7 §2
“THE FRIARS ARE BOUND TO OBEY BROTHER FRANCIS AND HIS SUCCESSORS”
The structures and government of the Order and the administration of goods
The General Chapter
The General Chapter must be a true sign of the fraternal fellowship of the whole Order. The following matters pertain to the General Chapter: to inquire into and to safeguard the patrimony and life of the Order; to look into new ways and means for growth in the Order and to promote its appropriate renewal; to enact proper laws; to elect the supreme governing body of the Order – that is, the Minister General, the Vicar General and the Definitors General; to treat of other major matters.14
§1 The General Chapter is governed by these Constitutions, by the General Statutes and by the rules of order approved by the same Chapter, without prejudice to universal law.
§2 The method of convoking the Chapter, its procedure and whatever else may be judged necessary or advisable, are to prescribed in the Statutes.15
§3 All friars can send the General Chapter their views on questions that concern the good of the Order.16
§1 The ordinary General Chapter must be held every six years at the time of Pentecost and in the place named by the Minister General after he has consulted the Plenary Council of the Order.
§2 After having consulted the Presidents of Conferences, the Minister General can, with the consent of the General Definitory, convoke an extraordinary Chapter, in which elections can also be held for those offices that then chanced to be vacant, when provision for those offices is a Chapter responsibility.
§1 A President is to be requested of the Holy See for the election of the Minister General. If none is appointed by the Holy See, the Chapter itself, by written ballot is to elect a President for the election from among the Chapter Members themselves.
§2 The President of the Chapter in other sessions is the Minister General or, in his absence, the one specified in the Chapter’s rules of procedure.
As legitimate Chapter Members the following are bound to gather in Chapter:
1. the Minister General, the Vicar General, the Definitors General and the Secretary General;
2. Ministers Provincial and the Custos of the Holy Land or, when they are impeded, their Vicars or, if the latter are impeded also, another friar designated by the Definitory or respectively the Custodial Discretorium;
3. Chapter members specified in accordance with the General Statutes.17
The Plenary Council of the Order
The Minister General with his Definitory, the Secretary General and the Councillors elected and designated in accordance with the General Statutes, together make up the Plenary Council of the Order.
The duty of the Plenary Council, assembled collegially, is the following:
1. to offer assistance to the Minister General and his Definitory in governing and inspiring the Order;
2. to encourage relations and communications between the General Curia and the Conferences, and between the Confe?rences themselves;
3. to implement the decisions and decrees of the previous Chapter; to enact decisions and decrees proposed by the General Definitory even if they are contrary to the articles of the General Statutes; these are to have force until the next Chapter;
4. to interpret the General Constitutions or General Statutes in accordance with article 15 par. 2-3 of the General Constitutions;
5. to help prepare the next General Chapter and to offer advice regarding its location;
6. to discuss the finances of the Order.
§1 Unless it has otherwise been expressly determined, the Plenary Council of the Order has a consultative vote.
§2 The procedure of a Plenary Council is set down in its rules of procedure.
The Minister General
The Minister General is elected in General Chapter for a six-year term; when that term has expired he can be re-elected only for another six years without an intervening vacancy.18
§1 The Minister General, with the consent of his Definitory, can issue decrees for the whole Order which remain in force until the next General Chapter; at that time, they lose all force, unless they are confirmed by the Chapter.
§2 The Minister General, with the consent of his Definitory, can issue decrees for individual Provinces and for regions whose Ministers form a conference. However, he must first consult with the Definitory of the Province concerned or the Conference of Ministers Provincial. These decrees remain in force until rescinded.
The Minister General can take any friars to provide for the needs and advantage of the whole Order or one of its entities, after having listened to the view of the Minister concerned.
The Minister General, either personally or through others, is obliged, according to special Statutes, to make a canonical visitation of Provinces and other entities of the Order dependent on Provinces at the time a Minister Provincial must be elected in Chapter; he is to visit other entities at a suitable time. He is also to visit them fraternally to foster and strengthen their Franciscan spirit.
§1 When the Minister General is absent or impeded, the Vicar General, who possesses ordinary vicarious power, go?verns the Order; however, he is not to use his power contrary to the mind or will of the Minister General.19
§2 Should it happen that the Vicar General is also absent or impeded from his office, the Definitor who is senior by first profession or by age, in a case of equality of profession, takes his place with the name and office of Pro-Vicar.
§1 If the office of Minister General becomes vacant outside of Chapter before the Feast of Pentecost in the year prior to a General Chapter, the election of a new Minister General to complete the six-year term is carried out by the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Conferences of Ministers Provincial, convoked along with the General Definitory by the Vicar General and collegially assembled within two months counted from the time of vacancy.
§2 If the office of Minister General should become vacant after the Feast of Pentecost in the year prior to a General Chapter, the Vicar General takes over government of the Order until the next Chapter.
The General Definitory
§1 The General Definitory, as a collegiate body in accordance with the law, is made up of the Minister General, the Vicar General and the Definitors General. As the council of the Minister General, it is made up of those named above with the exception of the Minister General.20
§2 When matters concerning them are dealt with, the secretaries and the heads of other offices, commissions or councils of the General Curia can be summoned to sessions of the Ge?neral Definitory in order to express their views.
§3 The Secretary General discharges the office of notary in all sessions of the General Definitory.
§1 The General Definitory, as a collegiate body, must act in accordance with the law; as council of the Minister General it is to assist him and express its consent or advice in accordance with universal and proper law.
§2 The Minister General, the Vicar General and the Defi?nitors General are to encourage frequent contacts with the Conferences of Ministers Provincial and with the Provinces, in such a way that they can share in the life experience of the whole Order.
The Minister General with the Vicar and Definitors Ge?neral form the supreme collegial tribunal in the Order, with the Secretary General functioning as actuary.
The Definitory is governed by special Statutes approved by the General Definitory itself.
The Vicar General
The Vicar General is elected in General Chapter for a six-year term; when that term has expired he can then be elected only for another six years without an intervening vacancy.
In addition to what articles 200-201 prescribe, the Vicar General assists the Minister General in the discharge of his office and can be delegated by him to handle other items of business.
Should the office of Vicar General become vacant outside of Chapter, the election of a new Vicar General to complete the six-year term must be carried out by the General Definitory.
The Definitors General
The Definitors General, the number of whom is determined in the General Statutes, are elected in General Chapter for a six-year term; when that term has expired, they can be elected only for another six years without an intervening vacancy.
Should the office of Definitor General become vacant outside of General Chapter, another friar is elected by the General Definitory to complete the six-year term after consultation with the Ministers Provincial of the Conference for which the Definitor who left office had been elected.
The Secretary General and Offices of the General Curia
§1 For the general affairs of the Order there is to be a Secretary General. The General Statutes are to make provision concerning his election and office.
§2 The Secretary General is the notary of the Order.
For the proper and efficient government of the Order, there are to be certain offices in the General Curia listed in the General Statutes; these are governed by norms approved by the General Definitory.
Visitators and Delegates General
Elected by the Minister General with his Definitory, the Visitator General makes canonical visitation of the Provinces or other entities and, according to the Rule, he admonishes, comforts and charitably corrects the friars21 in the name of and by the authority of the Minister General. During the visitation it will be his concern to learn the circumstances of the friars, to examine their undertakings, to encourage their activities and, above all, to promote the spirit of fraternity and the observance of our Rule22.
Delegates General are elected by the Minister General with his Definitory to perform special duties in the name of and by the authority of the Minister General.