May 20, 2014 — Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, announced in a letter to the whole Society that at the end of this year he will convoke General Congregation 36 to be held in 2016. The General Congregation, an assembly of Jesuit representatives from around the world, is always convoked on the death or resignation of the Superior General to choose his successor and may also be called to deal with significant matters for the whole Society.
“Several years have passed since my election as Superior General of the Society and I have recently reached the age of 78. Reflecting on the coming years, I have reached the personal conviction that I should take the needed steps towards submitting my resignation to a General Congregation,” Fr. Nicolás wrote in his letter to the Society.
“Through this letter I wish to inform the whole Society that, towards the end of this year, I will convoke the 36th General Congregation, to be held during the final months of the year 2016.”
Fr. Nicolás, who was elected in 2008, said he has already discussed the idea with Pope Francis, with officials at the Jesuit headquarters and with Jesuit provincials around the world.
Like the pope, the superior general of the Jesuits is elected for life, although the Jesuit constitutions include provisions for the superior general to resign. Fr. Nicolás succeeded Jesuit Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, who resigned at the age of 79. At the time, Fr. Kolvenbach said, "the Society of Jesus has the right to be governed and animated by a Jesuit in full possession of his physical and spiritual talents and not by a companion whose energies continue to diminish because of age." [Sources: Jesuit Curia, CNS]