While ensuring the zeal of the Oblate missionaries towards the most abandoned, Eugene also had to deal with the local bishops to safeguard the status and situation of the Oblates in the dioceses where they ministered. Yvon Beaudoin explains the situation in Nimes where there was a conflict of interests: “Bishop Chaffoy wanted the Oblate house, to which the people of Nimes had contributed through collections, to belong to the diocese. In 1825 the Oblates took up residence in a house near the seminary. In 1826, they acquired a new house which included a dwelling and some out-buildings” (Footnote to EO XIII n. 60)
I find it repugnant to consent to arrangements that would compromise the existence of our little Society in your diocese where you have nevertheless considered its establishment to be worthwhile, as a consequence of your good will toward it and in the hope that it will benefit your flock. Property is the surest guarantee of stability; tenants are exposed to too many risks; they never acclimatize for they always see themselves as strangers; they are tempted to change place at the least unpleasantness, the least discontent. Such a precarious state is essentially detrimental to the good: it is only half-heartedly undertaken when one doesn’t see any future ahead. It seems that everyone agrees on that, for no society consents to establish a community unless it is assured that at least the living quarters where they are to reside will be their property.
Letter to Bishop P.B. de Chaffoy of Nimes, EO XIII n. 60
We will come across examples of this situation regularly during the lifetime of Eugene. This type of conflict has existed throughout our 200 years of existence – and continues even today in some parts of the world.
“Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.” Martin Luther King, Jr.