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Society of Jesus/Government of the Society

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Society of Jesus
Abbreviation SJ, Jesuits
Formation 15 August 1534
Type Catholic religious order
Headquarters Church of the Gesu,
Rome, Italy
Superior General Adolfo Nicolás
Key people Ignatius of Loyola — founder

The Society is headed by a Superior General. In the Jesuit Order, the formal title of the Superior General is "Praepositus Generalis," Latin for Provost-General, more commonly called Father General or General, who is elected by the General Congregation for life or until he resigns, is confirmed by the Pope, and has absolute authority in running the Society. The current Superior General of the Jesuits is the Spanish Jesuit, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás Pachón who was elected on January 19, 2008.

He is assisted by "assistants," four of whom are "assistants for provident care" and serve as general advisors and a sort of inner council to the superior general, and several other regional assistants each of whom heads an "assistancy," which is either a geographic area (for instance, the North American Assistancy) or an area of ministry (for instance, higher education). The assistants normally reside with the General Superior in Rome. The assistants, together with a number of other advisors, form an advisory council to the General. A vicar general and secretary of the Society run day-to-day administration. The General is also required to have an "admonitor," a confidential advisor whose specific job is to warn the General honestly and confidentially when he is acting imprudently or is straying toward disobedience to the Pope or heresy. The central staff of the General is known as the Curia.

The order is divided into geographic provinces, each of which is headed by a Provincial Superior, generally called Father Provincial, chosen by the General. He has authority over all Jesuits and ministries in his area, and is assisted by a socius, who acts as a sort of secretary and chief of staff. With the approval of the General, the father provincial appoints a novice master and a master of tertians to oversee formation, and rectors of local houses of Jesuits.

Each individual Jesuit community within a province is normally headed by a rector who is assisted by a "minister," from the Latin for "servant," a priest who helps oversee the community's day-to-day needs.

The General Congregation is a meeting of all of the assistants, provincials and additional representatives who are elected by the professed Jesuits of each province. It meets irregularly and rarely, normally to elect a new superior general and/or to take up some major policy issues for the order. The General meets more regularly with smaller councils composed of just the provincials.

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