Yvon Beaudoin describes an example of the effects of the liberal movement on an Oblate priest, André Valentin, in Aix :

In the course of the struggle for freedom of education in 1828, the university students held a demonstration against the Jesuits. One evening when Father André was going home from visiting the hospital, he was met by a party of demonstrators who were shouting: “Hang the missionaries to the nearest lamppost, etc.” He told Abbé Bicheron what he had experienced and heard. Abbé Bicheron reported the incident in the conservative newspaper, La Quotidienne. The chief commissioner of Bouches-du-Rhône wrote Father de Mazenod asking him to assign Father André elsewhere. The Founder proved that Father André’s account was well grounded in fact and that he would be retained at his post of prison chaplain. July 21, 1828, the Founder wrote, “In my books, it is the executioners and not the victims who should be punished.”

Eugene continued in his defense of Fr André by responding to the Prefect:

Doubting his word under pretext that he is timorous is no more reasonable than claiming… that the city of Aix was in complete insurrection because a few scamps made a racket on leaving the tavern. To demand that he be disciplined because he was insulted, and this, on his return from a deathbed… that, Monsieur, is atrociousness infinitely more outrageous than the insults themselves. And so, my dear Count, I answer with my well known frankness that if Father André belonged to the diocese where I have some jurisdiction, not only would I not think that he should be assigned elsewhere, but I would do everything in my power to see that reparation was made for the harassment to which he was subjected; in my book, it is the tormentors and not the victims who are to be punished.

Undoubtedly impressed by this dressing-down, the prefect apologized for having been a mere mouthpiece for the mayor of Aix, and beat a hasty retreat: “Since you think that this priest should remain where he is, I shall abide by your prudent decision.”

This victory must surely have confirmed the conviction which the Founder and his uncle had so often expressed; one gains each time one refuses to make the least concession.

Leflon 2 page 303

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    My reflection this morning has been all over the place. I have thought what it is like to give into the ‘mob mentality’ and the courage it takes to walk away from that or speak out against it. Each stance of courage that I make can be a small step in the courage and strength to give my all for something that I believe in. The word ‘scapegoating’ comes to mind and it seems that scapegoating has been happening for thousands of years and even with all of our knowledge and learning it still continues to happen. And just as was done with Jesus the victim, the scapegoat is the one who is punished. This happens in fear and anger at not being able to get what we want or need. To blame another. To give in to that, to punish the other, lessen the other is not right.

    Fr. André in the course of his ordinary daily life stood up against this.

    I look today at what St Eugene and the Oblates are calling me to reflect on in my own life. What are the small steps that I have taken to ensure that I am not blaming the poor for being poor? In the ordinary of my day do I stand with the victims or do I move away and so take a silent stance alongside of the tormentors?

    What a joy it is to learn about Eugene on a deeper level and to see how the ordinary daily occurrences turned into something that grew to be extraordinary. It is like having a privileged peek into his life and walking away fuller because of that.

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