With the restoration of the Bourbon kings in France, the Church was once again given the chance to function freely. Many in France, however, became uncomfortable with the close bond between the monarchy and religion and feared a return to the situation of the Ancien Regime that the Revolution had tried to destroy. Labeled as the “liberals,” this group began to agitate for change when Charles X became king in 1824. To weaken the king, the liberals in the government targeted religion.
In 1828 they passed two laws that affected the Church directly, both linked with education. With the return of the monarchy, the bishops had been given control of the religious education in the schools and had established minor seminaries for secondary school boys. The ordinance of April 21 removed the grade schools from the jurisdiction and direction of the bishops. The second ordinance, of June 16, attacked secondary schools by forbidding religious to be teachers, limiting the number of seminarians, and establishing rules that were in conflict with the bishops.
In the face of this attack on the Church, Eugene de Mazenod and his uncle, Bishop Fortuné of Marseilles, could not remain silent and searched for effective ways to respond. Eugene was away from Marseille at this time and wrote to Tempier:
How can I express the sorrow that I feel at the sight of such great disorders? You understand, you who share so well my sentiments. It is not enough to groan, one must make resound in the entire world the voice of the strongest protests…
In the face of all this, he felt how powerless and his efforts insignificant:
I find myself like a lion who feels all his vigor, his strength and his courage, but who bites impotently on his chain and bit, whitening them with his froth.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 June 1828, EO VII n 304