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[87] The GC25 has carried out the verification of the structures of government and of their functioning, requested in the letter from the Rector Major convoking the Chapter itself, starting from a careful examination of the contents of articles 122 and 123 of the Constitutions regarding the principles and general criteria of the service of authority in our Congregation. In addition it has accepted what the General Council said on the basis of studies and of the experience of the last six-year period, regarding the value of the general principle of “unity around the Superior, considered always as the centre of unity and animator of communion in the community at all levels” (AGC 372, 52-53) and of some articles of the Constitutions (AGC 372, pp. 56-57) specifically:

a) the nature of the General Council in that it assists the Rector Major and collaborates with him in the functioning of government and animation of the Congregation (art. 130);

b) the organization of the Council into Councillors for Departments and Regional Councillors, is considered to be substantially positive for the animation and the government of the Congregation (art. 133);

c) the residence of the Regional Councillors in the house of the Council, judged necessary for ensuring the unity of the guidance and the activity of animating the Provinces (art. 131);
d) the subsidiarity and decentralization, that recognize a proper autonomy and a right distribution of powers between the different organs of government (art. 124).

1. Relationship and links between the Rector Major with his Council and the Provinces and Regions, and forms of animation and government


[88] In general the Provinces appreciate the unity of the Congregation as the fruit of� communion and of fidelity to the charism. They would like the General Council to help this unity to grow further, giving due consideration to the cultural diversity found in the Congregation, and to accompany the process of inculturation, especially in the problem areas, in this way ensuring fidelity to the charism.

[89] The structures of animation and government already ensure communion at various levels. The Provinces are looking for further progress, considering that the cultural complexities, (mentality, social organization and political and economic systems, languages and customs, etc.) are in continual development, and that one notes a further growth in some areas of the Congregation in the world, and changes of circumstances (decrease in the number of confreres and the unification of provinces etc.) in others.

[90] The programming of the six year period by the Rector Major with his Council has aroused interest and appreciation in the Congregation and has helped the individual Provinces to undertake the process of planning. Numerous Provinces are awaiting a further incentive from the central Government, that in a typical family manner, will foster, encourage and accompany the development of a “planning mentality” in the Congregation, in the Regions, and in the individual Provinces, bearing in mind the cultural differences.

[91] Many Provinces make a substantially positive judgment on the service of animation and of government of the Rector Major and his Council (Team Visits, Extraordinary Visitations, Formation Courses, Regional Meetings, etc.). The presence of the Rector Major in the Provinces is especially appreciated as an expression of communion around the Successor of Don Bosco. The Provinces express a desire for greater contact and closeness with the general Councillors in order to ensure a knowledge of the different local situations and to facilitate an effective provincial and regional coordination. It was appreciated that the Council itself midway through the six-year period carried out an overall assessment in view of a fair distribution of the animating presence of the Rector Major and his Councillors in the Provinces.

[92] The Circular Letters of the Rector Major were found to contribute well to the unity and to the links within the Congregation, but need to be used to greater effect in the Provinces.

Problem areas

[93] The large number of guidelines, proposals and initiatives offered by the various organs of animation in the Congregation (e.g. Documents of the General Chapters, Letters of the Rector Major, documents of the various Departments, documents of the Team Visits, the final report after Extraordinary Visitations) make it difficult to give effect to procedures for change or for maturing together because of a certain difficulty in assimilating the subject matter, the different mentality of the confreres and the weakness in animation that may exist in some Provinces or Regions.

[94] The plurality and the cultural, social and religious complexity of the different contexts in which the salesian charism must be embodied require that the interventions be diversified, pluralistic and focused. Achievement of mutual understanding between the General Council and the Provinces and the Regions can present difficulties.

[95] There is a certain tardiness on the part of central bodies in making necessary decisions; it seems also that no steps or processes of implementation are foreseen in the line of follow-up and evaluation. Such a situation sometimes makes animation ineffective and government weak.

[96] In the ever more challenging situations of young people in the world, especially those who are poor and in most need, it seems that sometimes there is lacking an appropriate response with interventions on their behalf on the part of the Congregation at international and governmental level, in order to “give a voice to the voiceless”.

[97] The problem areas mentioned point out some challenges that the Government of the Congregation must face:

- to live and promote unity in the growing diversity of cultures and situations that are constantly changing requires an ongoing dialogue between the centre and the Provinces, so that on the one hand situations and local problems are known and taken into account, and on the other there is openness to the horizon of universality of the Congregation;

- to govern and animate according to the processes of change and maturation in the Provinces, according to their own situation and their real possibilities, requires a planning mentality and a vision attentive to the unity of the salesian mission;��

- to promote a presence and an activity open to the social, political and ecclesial situation both particular and general, implies overcoming a tendency towards activity that is too self-directed.

Criteria and lines of action

[98] To build communion real interaction is necessary in the management of problems. Hence “to promote fraternal union among the different provinces, and to develop an ever more efficient organization for the fulfilment of the salesian mission in the world” (C 130), it is suggested that the Rector Major with his Council always try to find more and better ways:

����� - for identifying and studying common emerging problems,

����� - for promoting and guiding the reflection of the Provinces and Regions,

����� -for suggesting criteria for solutions and practical guidelines to the respective controlling bodies.

In the light of these considerations the Rector Major and the members of the Council must evaluate the various requests from the Provinces, Provincial and Regional Conferences so as to respond in the most significant and effective way.

[99] It is proposed that the Rector Major with his Council find suitable ways for evaluating effectively with the Provinces or Regions concerned: the programming of the six-year period, the conclusions of the Team Visits, the indications from the Extraordinary Visitations in particular with regard to the task of inculturation, the extent of the implementation of the deliberations of the most recent General Chapter, the development of a planning mentality, and the follow-up of processes of change.

[100] To help the Provinces to overcome the danger of a possible closing in on their own situations and requirements, and to open them up to a shared and cooperative vision of the problem areas and needs in their own and other Regions, (e.g. centres of formation and study centres, works of special significance, the development or re-structuring of Provinces, support for Regional projects and the foreign missions), the Rector Major with his Council will encourage an open and cooperative mentality, and in dialogue with the Provinces, also arrive at practical interventions, promoting the mobility and exchange of confreres between Provinces of different cultures.

[101] The circular letters of the Rector Major are a good means of linkage and unity in the Congregation. To make them better used and appreciated in the various communities it is suggested that they be written in a simple and discursive style and that those with a wealth of content on challenging themes alternate with others more familiar and informal about the life of the Congregation.

[102] To foster personal contact and effective discussion on the progress of the Province, it is suggested that the Rector Major and the Departmental Councillors offer to those Provincials who desire it, about half way through their term of office, the opportunity of a personal meeting to evaluate the fidelity to the charism and the salesian mission in the Province, and for a sharing in the six-year program.

[103] The future development of our mission requires the collaboration of a research and development group made up of experts (Salesians and laity) at the service of the Rector Major and his Council, to deal with particular issues. This group would enable the General Council to offer significant and effective suggestions especially on behalf of the young and the poor at international and governmental level.

[104] The Rector Major with his Council should continue the practice of drawing up a program for the six year period, a practice that everyone considers to have been very positive, and then refer to it regularly in subsequent documents and proposals. The whole Council will work according to projects, programming the different stages, procedures and evaluations, which are considered very important, and will therefore frequently ask for an assessment of the various proposals and initiatives while they are in progress, and not only at their completion.

[105] The Regions and the Provinces are asked to plan and re-plan their initiatives, taking into serious consideration the programming carried out by the Rector Major for the six-year period, so as to ensure a unified course of action in the Congregation.

[106] The Rector Major and his Council are asked to follow up in a special way those Provinces or Regions that find greater difficulty in proceeding according to the programming and the respective provincial plans.

[107] Through the various departments the General Council attempts to respond to the internal needs of the various Provinces. This task however must in no way diminish our vocation as a Congregation, which requires us also to act in the defence and for the advancement of all the young people in the world, especially those who are poorest and most in need, and this at international level in both Church and State.

2. The Departmental Councillors


[108] While the service of animation of the Departmental Councillors is appreciated in the Provinces for the resources they can make available, for the animation they can offer and for the encouragement they give to the Provinces in developing a greater sense of international communion and interprovincial understanding, there is also a strong and frequently felt desire for a continual dialogue between the Centre and the Provinces.

[109] In a world in which the complexities of the different cultures, languages, races, religions and societies make communications difficult, the Provinces expect from the Departmental Councillors that the programs of animation they propose will be of help in meeting local problems, and at the same time in broadening horizons;�� there is in fact sometimes the feeling that the animation program proposed by the various sectors does not meet the real needs of the Provinces.

[110] While the Departmental Councillors frequently offer competent advice and service for the animation of the Provinces, the latter feel the need for coordination between the initiatives and the need to avoid overlapping, and parallel or conflicting proposals. The GC25 appreciates the growing efforts at coordination between the Departmental Councillors in the last six-year period (e.g. the Vademeum of the General Council and its revision, the six-year program and its revision, the interdepartmental initiatives) and it encourages them to continue along the same lines.

Problem areas:

[111] There is insufficient communication in both directions in the preparation of programs; this can lessen the effectiveness of developing processes and weaken the Provinces in their initiatives.

[112] The lack of interdisciplinary studies and projects between the various sectors can be a hindrance to the full understanding of the youth condition which is now in a state of rapid change and frequently defies sectorial delimitation. The study of themes relevant to the present day such as the growing division between rich and poor, questions about the rights of the child and of young people, the loss of family unity, the influence of technology on information and communication, the globalization process, etc., could help to fill this evident lacuna.

[113] Putting together the suggestions made by some provincial chapters, by the assembly of the Generalate and in the report of the Vicar of the Rector Major, the desire for a reorganization of the working structures within the Generalate is recognized.

Criteria and lines of action

[114] The request of the Provinces to have a significant presence and closeness on the part of the Departmental Councillors, reflects the deep desire for a commitment to an effective dialogue about the best ways to respond to the signs of the times. This implies a change of mentality both at the centre and in the provinces. It is considered important that work be done within provincial conferences or groups of provinces for the planning of network interventions, with the involvement of regional or provincial centres and delegates, rather than they be imposed from above.

[115] The past six years have seen positive experiences of coordinated study between various sectors (e.g. on the volunteer movement, street-children, etc.). The need for prompt and flexible responses to complex and wide-ranging situations implies coordination between the Departments and the Regionals. It is proposed that this be a constant concern of the Vicar of the Rector Major, for the purpose of coordinating the interrelated initiatives and fostering a transverse study and evaluation. At a practical level, the Councillor most directly concerned could be involved from time to time.

[116] Let the Departmental Councillors give due importance to what is suggested in art. 107 of the Regulations (concerning technical offices and consulters) and make use of qualified specialists in the planning, programming and evaluation of interventions of animation. Let the professionally prepared personnel at the service of the various sectors be kept up to date through projects of ongoing formation and ensure continuity of programs.

[117] The Rector Major is asked to give effect to the interventions considered most opportune for the Blessed Michael Rua community of the Generalate, with possible internal arrangements for making the life of confreres called to work in the service of the central government of the Congregation more fraternal and satisfying and with a greater sharing of responsibility.

3. The Regional Councillors and the groups of Provinces


[118] An examination of the precapitular document, the contributions of the Provincial Chapters and of the General Council reveal that in general the figure of the Regional Councillor is appreciated in the Provinces. The programming realized within the General Council is considered of positive value.

[119] The Regional Councillor is considered important and necessary in his role of linkage between the Provinces and the Rector Major with his Council, as a service to unity and decentralization. His residence in Rome is considered a positive factor, but an appropriate division of his time between Headquarters, the Regions and the Provinces is desired. The extraordinary visitation is appreciated as an opportunity for the Province to assess its project and renew it, and to get fresh light on its programming as an experience of unity and communion with the Rector Major and as a significant occasion for fraternity and dialogue.

[120] The groups of provinces are looking for closeness, accompaniment and animation. This leads at times to difficult situations as a consequence of cultural, linguistic, political and social complexities, and the geographical extent of some Regions.

Problem areas

[121] Various factors make the Regional’s functions difficult in practice:

-the geographical, cultural, linguistic, political and social complexity of some Regions;

-the Regional’s difficulty in striking a balance between the time spent in extraordinary visitations and that needed for accompanying the Provinces;

-the growing complexity of the life and mission of the Provinces which makes the extraordinary visitation itself more difficult because of the growing number of relationships, not only with the confreres and community organisms, but also with the different groups of the Salesian Family and the organisms of animation of the EPC and young people.

[122] Many of the Provinces concerned put forward the proposal to divide the Australia-Asia group of provinces because of the notable growth of the Region over the past six years and its future expectations, of the inherent difficulty of accompaniment and coordination, of its cultural religious and social complexity, and of the geographical extension of the Region itself.

[123] The situation of the Africa-Madagascar Region has also been examined. Because of the complexity of languages, cultures, religions, etc., some of the Provinces involved had suggested the division of this Region.

[124] Keeping in mind the proposals of some of the Provinces of the Regions of Europe more directly involved, the reality of the present grouping has also been studied. Evident is the vast geographical extent and the linguistic, historical, political and cultural complexity of the Region of Northern Europe; the new European mentality growing in different countries, with deep processes of coming closer together and of political, economic, cultural and social sharing; the development within the Congregation of processes of the reorganization and regrouping of Provinces with foreseeable consequences for the configuration of the regions of Europe in the not-distant future; and that this sensitivity is felt in the Provinces; but nevertheless no practical, convergent and viable proposals have been made by way of change.

Criteria and lines of action

[125] As far as the action of the Regional Councillors is concerned, it is proposed:

- that in the initial programming of the Council each Regional be assigned a reasonable number of extraordinary visitations to be carried out, relying on the help of other members of the General Council;

- that in the making of the extraordinary visitation, in addition to the present method, different means and methods should be tried out, always ensuring that every confrere has the possibility of a personal meeting with the Visitor and that the latter gains an adequate knowledge of the state of the Province and fulfils the objectives assigned for the visitation by the Rector Major;

- that the Regional have collaborators available if necessary to make possible a balanced work of animation and accompaniment of the provinces and to implement the guidelines of the extraordinary visitation.

[126] With respect to the organization of the groups of provinces it is suggested:

-that some Regions be suitably reshaped, having in mind the criteria of geographical extension and cultural diversity;

-that the Regions be suitably arranged internally into conferences or intermediate elements which will ensure easy and organic animation.

[127] In response to the requests submitted, the group of Provinces previously assigned to the Regional Councillor for Australia-Asia has been divided into two groups:

- the South Asia group: India-Bangalore, India-Bombay (Mumbai), India-Calcutta (Kolkata), India-Dimapur, India-Guwahati, India-Hyderabad, India-Madras (Chennai), India-New Delhi, India-Tiruchy;

- the East Asia-Oceania group: Australia, China, Indonesia-Timor, Japan, Korea, North Philippines, South Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam.

[128] Since the Africa-Madagascar Region is still in a period of consolidation and the number of confreres of the Region is not great, it is considered that the problems at present existing can be resolved through a suitable distribution and coordination of the Provinces in Conferences.

[129] For the moment it is not considered opportune to proceed to a change in the grouping of the European Provinces. Nevertheless it is proposed to entrust to the General Council, with the particular involvement of the three Regionals concerned, the launching of a study of the situation, with suitable specialists, of processes and experiences of coordination. The study ought to lead, should it be considered appropriate, to a new distribution and organization of the European Provinces, more in line with the European sensitivity and mentality now emerging in the field of culture and in the new political, religious and social reality. In the meantime it is suggested that a coordinating office be set up under the three Regional Councillors of Europe to work in agreement with the Councillors of the sectors concerned.

[130] As a consequence, the following is the overall framework of the configuration of groups of provinces for the next six years: the Africa-Madagascar group (unchanged); the Latin America Southern Cone group (unchanged); the Interamerican group (unchanged); the South Asia group (new); the East Asia-Oceania group (new); the North Europe group (unchanged); the West Europe group (unchanged); the Italy and Middle East group (unchanged).