Since long before the Plenary Session of the General Congregation began, a special committee has been in charge of all the aspects of the preparation of the event. It is the Coordinating Committee, better known among the electors and the staff as the CoCo. We met one member of this Committee, Fr. Tim Kesicki, who is the President of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. He kindly agreed to answer a few questions.
How were the members of the Coordinating Committee chosen? According to the new rules defined since the last General Congregation, the 35th, the CoCo members are elected at the Conference level. Once the Provincial Congregations have elected their delegates, all of the elected and ex-officio members gather in a meeting at the Conference level. There are six Conferences throughout the world. The Conferences each elect its representative to the Coordinating Committee, thus there are six members of the CoCo. Father General presides, but the Formula for a General Congregation instructs the Committee to elect a moderator. Fr. Paul Béré, from Africa, is the Moderator.
What have been or what are the main tasks of the CoCo? The Coco follows what the Formula of the Congregation prescribes. The following tasks are the main ones:
- Overseeing the organization and processes of the initial phases of the GC (this includes all that has been done before the plenary session that is now going on), as well as the election phase and business phase of the GC. So it is really a coordination role to make sure that every aspect or “phase” of the Congregation is done according to the way it has to be done.
- The CoCo also oversees the other commissions that had a role to play in preparing for the GC (e.g. the De Statu Commission that had to draw the portrait or the “situation” of the Society of Jesus at the moment), and it appoints other commissions.
What are the main challenges the CoCo has encountered in its role? How does it handle these challenges? I would say that, on the broader picture, one of the challenges of the CoCo is how to maintain everything that Saint Ignatius Loyola established for Jesuit Governance while holding a Congregation in the modern world with all of its communication technology, global interconnectedness and a very fast pace.
Was there or is there any responsibility of the CoCo in relationship with the Vatican and the pope? The Superior General is the Society’s primary link to the Pope and the Holy See. The CoCo may assist Father General in his communication with the Holy See. The Holy Father has met with the members of previous Congregations; it might happen again this time and the CoCo could assist with the organization of that meeting.
There has been a clear insistence from the CoCo on the importance of confidentiality in the works of the GC. Would you tell us about this? Why is it important in today’s world of communication? The Congregation is not open to the public and the members keep the following confidential: 1) No one can reveal the names of anyone discussed or considered for election; 2.) No one can reveal any of the vote results; 3.) No one can discuss a topic or issue that has not yet been resolved. This confidentiality is prescribed to give the members as much freedom as possible to govern the Society. The outcome of the Congregation is made public in the election of the new Superior General, his counselors ad providentiam and the decrees of the GC.