When Pius VIII became Pope in March 1829, he had written a pastoral letter to all the bishops of the world. The Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs in France, Bishop Feutrier, had forbidden the bishops of France to publish it until the government gave them permission to do so. Eugene, who was convalescing in Grans at the time, wrote to his uncle in Marseilles about his response to yet another attack on the freedom of the Church.
I should like to know if you are willing to comply with the preposterous directive from the Ministry. Assuming that the Pope’s encyclical letter will not be printed, I cannot believe that anyone can be forced to remain silent when the Supreme Pastor, exercising his prerogative as teacher of the Church, instructs the bishops to protest certain disorders which He has denounced. On the contrary, it is my opinion that the flock should be given the food just as it was received from the shepherd.
Letter to Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod, 9 August 1829, quoted in Leflon 2 p. 324
To Fr Tempier he shared the draft of the letter he had written to the Minister on behalf of Bishop Fortuné:
“My Lord, I not only had cognizance of the encyclical of our holy Father Pius VIII, but it was addressed directly to me as to all Bishops of the Catholic world for, thanks be to God, I am in communion with the apostolic Holy See”.
We will consider whether such a draft of the letter, as I had planned it, ought not to be recorded in the main register of the diocese in witness to the Bishop’s fidelity in order that his successors may know of it, for I had proposed to tell the Minister that, in obedience to the voice of the Superior of the bishops and in compliance with his directives, I was warning my people about all these things which his care impelled him to denounce as dangerous to their souls.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 16 August 1829, EO VII n 336.
As the State and the Church were locked in an ever-increasing conflict, which was to last several years, we will see that Eugene could not remain inactive – at a high personal cost to himself