Writing to a public figure whose ideas on religious liberty he did not agree with, Eugene said:

I am sorry that the indiscretion of certain of our missionaries has led you to believe that I am one of your fiercest antagonists to be found in the ranks of your fellow Catholics.
I very definitely am not an enemy of any fellow Catholic. I agree that there are some whose political doctrines I do not share, but in all else I revere them most deeply and defend their good name with every bit as much zeal, and perhaps with more success than the staunchest supporters of their system.
However, I do not hide that my respect and affection for their person could never shake or unsettle my principles which spring from a simple faith; for these principles compel me to look upon the authority of the Head of the Church as my guide and the guide of my religious family, independently of any doctrinal decision or any solemn decree ex cathedra, etc. … Possibly, that is being too orthodox for times like these, but what one may say or think of my orthodoxy does not disturb me

Letter to Count de Montalembert, 24 October 1831, EO XIII n 78

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What is Eugene talking about this morning – or at least what is he saying to me?

    I remember when in 1984 the Pope came to Canada, to Ottawa. I was back in the Church by that time but was struggling with some of the doctrines and particularly with that Pope. Urged by friends I stood and waited to see him as he came down the canal, and then later went to attend his outdoor Mass at LeBreton Flats. I sat well back on the side of the hill and heard very little – but I was there. And after the Mass was over and most of the people were long gone my friend and I walked down to the small lane that the Pope’s car would take to leave the area. I did not know why I was there, why I waited – I knew only that I ‘had’ to. We did not need to wait long, my friend and I and a few photographers, for his car to come along on a lane that was so narrow we could almost reach out and touch his car as it passed. He looked at us and blessed us and then he was gone. I have never forgotten that. I think of Eugene’s experience with Pope Pius VII as he ran with and then clung to the carriage as the Pope passed through on the outskirts of Aix – my experience was so much quieter and passive than his and yet we were both there for reasons that sprang from a love that came from deep within us.

    The respect and love came from a much deeper place within me. Images move through my mind of those who I love, there are times when I do not always agree with them, or perhaps with how or what they might do; but that never stops the love and there is the point of it all. The love that I have been given is just that – a gift of something that I could never of imagined or dreamed up or learned about on my own.

    • Pat McGee says:

      Eleanor, thanks for sharing this. When I was at the General Chapter of 2004, I was given the occasion to kneel before Pope John Paul II, and I had a similar experience. All my “differences” vanished and through my tears, I saw not him but a kenotic icon of Christ the Saviour. A graced moment!

      • Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

        Thank you Pat for sharing that. Isn’t it amazing how grace gets through and touches us – no matter now walls and barricades we set up!

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