The Constitution and the Statutes

of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation

Established by the General Chapter


Section II: Norms for the Individual Monasteries

A. Of the Organs of Government of the Monastery
2. Of the Abbot

S11 As father of the community and president of the chapter, the abbot of each autonomous house of this Congregation exercises a function of service to his community, as he governs and teaches.

C11 The Abbot, in the governance of his house and its monks, has all the powers and faculties granted by the universal law to major superiors of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right; he is thus an ordinary according to the norms of universal law.

C12 All that is said in the Rule and in the proper law of this Congregation about the abbot applies also to a conventual prior, that is to say: the major superior of an autonomous nonabbatial monastery properly called a conventual priory, unless that is excluded by a contrary provision or by the nature of the case.

S12 When a conventual priory becomes an abbey, the chapter of that house has the right to proceed to the election of an abbot according to the norms of C 13-18; S 13-20; the last conventual prior remains the major superior with jurisdiction, as administrator, until the abbot has been elected and confirmed, or until his postulation has been admitted, or until the abbot president has appointed an administrator according to the norms of C 15 and S 15 or those of S 18.

C13 When the abbatial office becomes vacant, ordinary jurisdiction passes to the claustral prior as administrator. If there is no claustral prior, the ordinary jurisdiction passes to an administrator to be elected by the capitulars present in the monastery, convoked by the councilor senior in rank or profession among those present, who also presides at the election. For such an election the ordinary electoral procedures determined by the Customary of the house are to be followed. The administrator governs the community until a new abbot has been elected and confirmed.

S13 The administrator of an abbey according to the provisions of C 13 shall at once send notice of the abbatial vacancy to absent capitulars and to the abbot president. The diocesan bishop and the abbot primate shall also be notified.

C14 1) Upon the death or resignation of the abbot, an election shall be held as soon as possible, in no case later than three months from the beginning of the vacancy of the abbatial office.

2) The electors of an abbot are all the capitulars of the monastery who, at the time of the election, are not deprived of their active voice (C 56) and are not otherwise disqualified for voting by CIC 171.1.

S14 All the electors shall be notified of the time and place of the abbatial election, which is to be determined by the abbot president in consultation with the administrator. Each elector shall signify that he has been notified.

C15 If the abbot president, having heard the views of the electors, decides with the agreement of the absolute majority of the electors that neither election nor postulation of an abbot is opportune at the time when an abbatial election should be held, it shall be within his power to postpone the election beyond the statutory three months, and to choose an administrator, after consultation with the electors.

S15 In appointing an administrator according to the provisions of C 15, the abbot president shall indicate the maximum duration of the administrator's term, without prejudice to the possibility of an election before the end of that term.

S16 An elector who is unable to be present at an abbatial election may vote by absentee ballot, or through a proxy to whom he may give a mandate using any suitable means of modern communication. The Customary of the individual monastery shall determine the procedure for absentee balloting and for balloting by proxy.

S17 Before the election of an abbot begins, the electors are to be assembled in a preliminary meeting in which proxies and absentee voters are identified and other preparatory matters are settled. At this meeting a declaration is made of the fact of any capitular's being deprived of his active or passive voice or of both (C 56), or of his being disqualified for voting for any of the reasons given in CIC 171.1. The person presiding at the election is competent to resolve doubts about any capitular's eligibility or about his right to vote.

C16 To be eligible as abbot, the religious must be a monk of the electing monastery who is not deprived of his passive voice; he must be a priest, perpetually professed for five years, and thirty-five years of age.

C17 1) The abbot president or his delegate shall preside at the election, without the right to vote.

2) The abbot shall be elected by secret ballot. In an abbatial election a two-thirds majority is required on the first three ballots, and an absolute majority on the next six.

3) If nine ballots have been completed with no one elected, the abbot president, after consultation with the electors, must choose and appoint an administrator.

S18 When an administrator is appointed after nine inconclusive ballots in an abbatial election, it is the right and the duty of the abbot president to indicate the length of time in which the monk appointed will function as administrator.

S19 When a monk has been elected abbot, his consent shall be asked by the president of the election. If the elected monk accepts, the president declares him elected and immediately confirms the election orally and in writing, according to the norms of CIC 179. Otherwise, the balloting begins again with a new first ballot from which the procedure described in C17 continues.

C18 If the electors wish to elect as abbot a monk who is legally ineligible, postulation is made according to the norms or CIC 180-183.

S20 1) Voting procedure in postulation of an abbot is that followed in election of an abbot by ballot, but the monk postulated must obtain two-thirds of the votes.

2) The abbot president has the faculty to admit a postulation when the impediment to eligibility rises from the proper law of this Congregation. If a monk of another monastery of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation is postulated, the abbot president has the faculty to dispense from the impediment, but the monk may not accept the office without the permission of his own abbot. If a monk of another congregation within the Benedictine Confederation is postulated, the abbot primate has the faculty to dispense from the impediment (LP 45). Other cases of postulation must be referred to the Apostolic See.

3) If the postulation is rejected, the right of election returns to the electors.

C19 1) When an abbot has been duly elected and has been confirmed by the president of the election, he immediately assumes full jurisdiction and all powers of government of the monastery.

2) An abbot must receive the abbatial blessing within three months after his election.

S21 The rite of abbatial blessing is usually celebrated by the bishop of the diocese in which the monastery is situated. For a good reason, and with the consent of the diocesan bishop, the abbot-elect may receive the blessing from another bishop or abbot.

S22 The acts of the election shall be accurately recorded by the secretary, and they shall be signed by at least the secretary, the president of the election, and the tellers, and shall be kept in the archives of the monastery.

C20 The abbot is elected for an indefinite period.

S23 The election of an abbot for an indefinite period is not the same as the former election of an abbot for life (GC 1969).

S24 When an abbot thinks that the needs of his community or of himself call for his resignation from office, he should consult his chapter and seek the advice of the abbot president and the abbot president's council.

S25 1) If circumstances arise which seriously and perdurably hinder the abbot in the proper discharge of his responsibilities, he should submit his resignation to the abbot president. If he is unwilling to do this, the council of the house, in a session which the prior convokes at the request of any two councilors and at which the prior presides, has the right to request an extraordinary visitation by the abbot president.

2) If the abbot president and his council, having consulted the community concerned, judge that the welfare of the community requires the termination of an abbot's tenure, the abbot president, with his council's consent (C 72, #19), may exercise his authority to remove the abbot from office.

S26 1) When an abbot relinquishes his office, he may retain the title of abbot and assume second place in rank in the community, after the ruling abbot; or, with the consent of the abbot president, he may return to his rank according to profession.

2) The practice of electing coadjutor abbots in this Congregation is abolished.


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Rev. 08 Apr 2009 |