Today the 22nd General Congregation opened in Rome, it was the third to be convoked of the restored society. It was convoked by Jan Roothan, but he was to die the month before its opening in his 24th year of office. The Congregation was to elect Fr Peter Beckx, the provincial of Austria, as General after he received more than half of the votes on the first ballot. Beckx had been born into a very poor family, his father having died two months before his birth, his education sponsored by benefactors. He served as General for 30 years, and the Society doubled in number during this time.
Some of the 44 decrees are worth highlighting as they give us an insight into Jesuit life at the time. Decree 13 called for the recall of Jesuits who had been scattered, as there was concern about a lack of religious discipline and the serious ill effects of this. It also indicated the continuing disruption of Jesuit life by political instability. Decree 14 called on the need to guard against offensive comments (oral or written) by Jesuits, calling for the wise use of Jesuit privileges and obedience to local Bishops, indicating a certain anxiety and growing unease about the status of the Society in many places. The next decree (15) is fascinating, " The reading of newspapers and of similar publications is to be permitted only to those who will experience no ill results from this." This postulate came from certain provinces, but maybe it is an indication of the 'revolutionary' nature of the times, and the incendiary tone to many tracts, pamphlets and newspapers, with concern being shown towards younger Jesuits in particular.
There followed a series of decrees about our colleges - with concern shown about over-expansion, boarding schools being set up without sound financial means and that fees can be accepted if necessary to the sustenance of the Jesuits working in the schools. Other decrees were aimed at tightening up formation - with a third year of philosophy stipulated (D 34) and do to Tertianship as an 'integral year' (D44) . Jesuits were reminded that it is necessary to have permission from the censor before externs published their writings. Finally a decree " Only those timepieces are now forbidden that are made of gold or whose value exceeds an ordinary price"