To the attention of the
Members of the Provincial Council Provincial
Subject: Legal and administrative procedures
Dear Inspector and Confreres,
I hope you are well and that you are living fruitfully the bicentennial year of the birth of our dear father and founder Don Bosco.
I am writing to you about the information and the legal and administrative practices that the Provincial must send to the Rector Major and the General Council for approval or in any case to deal with difficult or irregular situations.
In the six-year project, the Rector Major and the General Council asked me to " enable the Provinces to prepare in a correct and in-depth manner the practices concerning dispensations, indults, resignations, secularizations, exclaustrations " (Vicar 18.104.22.168). A correct, timely and thorough preparation of the practices allows to study the various situations in order to prevent some inconveniences; it also allows one to face the difficulties and irregularities of life of the confreres so as not to leave them unresolved for a long time.
The preparation of the papers is part of the Inspector's government action; in these times it requires more attention and care. In this regard I offer you some indications, especially with reference to the practices that require the approval of the Rector Major and the Council.
The exact preparation of the different practices does not primarily concern proper organization; it refers above all to fidelity to our General Constitutions and Regulations. This fidelity helps us to understand and fully live the demands of Salesian consecrated life, as well as to prevent serious inconveniences or abuses. We are all called to this fidelity, including the Rector Major and the General Council. In this the Superiors at various levels must set a good example for all the confreres.
Our Congregation has a good tradition in dealing with legal and administrative practices. This tradition is the result of experience and is codified in the volume published by our General House, entitled "Legal elements and administrative practice in the government of the Province". In this book we can find ways to tackle some problems in the life of the Province, to carry out the required processes, to prepare the application forms, ... This volume is not always known or is poorly consulted; even with his help, you can face situations and avoid wasting time.
At the moment we are strengthening the juridical office, also with the help of our canonists who are at the Salesian Pontifical University. To better understand the different situations that require the instruction of a practice, it is possible to consult the Coordinator of the Office don Pier Fausto Frisoli; depending on the case, he will address the questions to the Attorney General Don Francesco Maraccani, or to some of our canonist or to the Secretary General; he will inform the Vicar of the Rector Major or, if necessary, he will hear his opinion.
To avoid loss of files or delay in their examination, they must be sent to specific recipients; there is no need to send them to the Rector Major or to the other Councilors. All legal practices are sent to the Secretary General; the general administration and requests for scholarships and aid for training are addressed to the General Treasurer; the requests for financial support for projects go to the Councilor for missions. They will examine the completeness of the documentation, before sending it to the Regional Councilors and then presenting them to the Rector Major and the General Council. Immediate information on cases of sexual abuse of minors and on matters concerning religious discipline must be communicated to the Vicar of the Rector Major. As far as possible it is better to send the requests in digital pdf format; the requests that must go to the Holy See are also sent in paper form.
To ensure that the practices, aimed at obtaining the approval of the Rector Major and the General Council, are known and examined also by the Regional Councilors, ordinarily and to the extent possible, they should be sent during the months of the plenary sessions of the General Council, ie December-January and June-July. The practices of dispensation from celibacy require the judgment of the Rector Major, but not the vote of the General Council; therefore they can reach the Secretary General at any time.
To open a new work, it is necessary to request authorization from the Rector Major and the Council, indicating the type of work that is to be opened, the addressees to whom it is addressed, the consent of the provincial council, the bishop's authorization, the consistency of the confreres of the community, the expected date of canonical erection, ...; this documentation is sent to the Secretary General. It is then necessary to ask for authorization for new constructions and financing, sending to the Treasurer General the documentation about the ownership of the land, the construction project of the construction, the detailed cost of the interventions, the financial plan, ... These are two different authorizations. Such authorizations are necessary, before requesting aid for financing.
For the canonical closure of a Salesian community, it is necessary to know whether the work is also closed or not; if the work remains open, it is necessary to specify the modality of its management, ie if its management will be entrusted to the laity or to another Salesian community, ...; if the work is closed, indicate the destination of the properties.
Their appointment is made by the Rector Major and the General Council, upon proposal of the Provincial, after consultation with the confreres (Const. 167). The Provincial must not submit his opinion to a vote of the Provincial Council. The Rector Major and the General Council have established that such consultation must be made immediately before each appointment (Reg. 154) and the results of the consultation must be sent complete to the Secretary General using the appropriate form. By sending his opinion, the Inspector must write the reasons for the choice of a confrere instead of others, who in the consultation have obtained more reports.
The appointment of the directors is made by the Provincial with his Council; it is approved by the Rector Major having heard the General Council. This appointment must be preceded by a consultation among the confreres of the Province (Const. 177; Reg. 156, 170). It is strongly advised that the consultation for the appointment of the directors be done annually and that in some way the results of their participation are communicated to the confreres. For the approval of appointments by the Rector Major it is necessary to indicate in the appropriate form the results of the consultation, ie how many confreres have responded to the consultation and how many confreres have indicated the nominated confrere. I enclose the new form to be sent for the approval of the directors.
To facilitate dialogue with the confrere regarding vocational difficulties, it is important to know that the Rector Major and the General Council have been granting exclaustration for years only in exceptional and very rare cases. For the most part, after a year of "absence from the religious community", it can be understood whether the motivations of the confrere concern vocational discernment for the transition to a diocese; in this case it is a question of asking for a "ad experimentum" or "pure et simpliciter" secularization. Attached to the request for secularization, addressed by the confrere to the Pope, is the letter from the Bishop, which must indicate whether it is a "test" according to canon 693, or whether it is a "pure et simpliciter" secularization.
In the Provincial Council the Provincial Secretary and the Provincial Bursar are those who help the Provincial to prepare the legal and administrative practices in a correct and faithful manner to the General Constitutions and Regulations. Both must take care of their qualification in this regard. It is advisable that the provincial secretary has a juridical preparation; better if he can acquire a license in Canon Law. The Provincial Secretary and the Provincial Bursar must know and keep at hand the volume "Juridical Elements and Administrative Practice in the Government of the Province". Correctness, precision and punctuality can thus be guaranteed.
The correctness in the preparation of legal and administrative practices is a way, perhaps not the main but still important, of living the Year of Consecrated Life and the Bicentennial, in fidelity to Don Bosco. Thus he would repeat to us today: " If you loved me in the past, continue to love me in the future with the exact observance of the Constitutions ".
Thank you for your attention and best regards.
Don Francesco Cereda