List of circular Letters by Dom Ambrose

82/A/02 (cf. 81/A/04-1,2,3)

Monte Cistello

February 24, 1982


Dear Reverend Mother, Reverend Father,

No doubt you will be interested to have the results of the questionnaire concerning the possibility of having a mixed general meeting in 1984.

The closing date for this questionnaire was February 10th. In actual fact, we waited until the 20th to allow for the slowness of the Post. Up to that time, we had received 132 replies out of a possible 145. Of these, 4 had to be discounted for one reason or another. So, in practice, there were 128 voters.

Of these, 63 were in favour of having the meeting in 1984, and 65 were against it.

The second question asked whether you wanted to maintain the vote about having a legislative Chapter in conjunction with the general meeting. 94 voted "yes", 30 "no".

The third question dealt with the place of such a general meeting if there were to be Chapters at the same time. 73 voted for Rome, 20 for Spain, 19 for North-America and 7 for other places.

Question 4 also dealt with the place of the meeting, but without Chapters. 62 preferred Rome, 15 Spain, 11 North-America, 7 Citeaux, 4 Europe and 4 other places.

The fifth question concerned the possibility of the Abbot General and a mixed commission making the final decision if the results of the questionnaire were not conclusive. 101 people agreed with this idea, 16 were against it.

The sixth question was only for Abbesses and concerned the nuns whom they might like to be invited to the mixed commission. It provided a whole host of names: 39 nuns received votes. I need not give the whole list!

Since the majority of the Superiors did not want the general meeting in 1984, I feel bound to accept that result. It is true that the figures are rather close, but they seem to me to be conclusive.

26 Superiors, in sending their replies, made some comment. Most of these were just explanations of why the person had voted one way or another. One was an attack on the legitimacy of the questionnaire which it considered to be biased in favour of the Abbesses. However, there were two replies which, to my mind, are worth mentioning here.

One of them pointed out that he was against having a general meeting in 1984, but he did think that it would be good to have such a general meeting in 1986 or 1987, and that the final votes on the revised Constitutions of both branches should be left until that meeting.

The second reply was along the same lines, but it gave a more concrete development. It suggested:

a) that the General Chapter of Abbots should take place in May 1984 with a greater number of observatrices than we normally have. This Chapter would try to settle an a quasi-definitive text of the Constitutions for the male branch, which would be distributed to all the houses of the Order to be studied and to be put into practice provisionally for one year, without being presented first of all to the Holy See.

b) that the general mixed meeting should take place in October or November of 1985, and would be combined with a General Chapter of the nuns. The main object of the general meeting would be to give the final touches to the Constitutions of both branches. The Abbots themselves could hold a one day General Chapter to approve finally the text for their branch.

The author of this idea felt that his suggestion respected all the decisions made by the General Chapter of each branch, and it also permitted what he called a year of grace to study the question of the Constitutions. It will be interesting to see what the Consilium Generale and the Preparatory Commission for the Abbesses Chapter think of these suggestions.

Thanking you all for your cooperation in this questionnaire, and with all good wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Ambrose Southey