In the previous reflection we looked at the letter of Eugene to the Bishop of Gap regarding the Shrine of Notre Dame du Laus. Now Eugene writes to Fr Guibert directly about the same delicate situation.
I admired the means you employed to bring this difficult man to a more reasonable frame of mind, and in taking the whole affair into your hands you got me out of a very embarrassing situation and saved the day. Discussion in the context envisaged by the Bishop of Gap would have been bound to come out badly.
Yvon Beaudoin explains the background in a footnote: “The Bishop and clergy of Gap were already having thoughts of resuming the direction of N.-D. du Laus and of making it a retirement home for elderly priests. As to the latter, Father Guibert was prepared to accept them but Bishop Arbaud found his conditions too onerous. The Bishop of Gap continued to find fault with the Oblates especially on account of the interests they had shown in Lamennais and of their moral teaching, inspired by St. Alphonsus. While saying nothing more about the dismissal of the Oblates, he asked for at least Father Guibert’s departure. Bishop de Mazenod refused and told the superior to pass on this refusal to the prelate, who left things as they were. The better relationship that now existed between Bishop Arbaud and Father Guibert saved the Founder from an embarrassing situation: basically, it was the latter’s moral teachings and past relationships with Lamennais that the Bishop did not approve.”
We had right, fair dealing and justice on our side, he had might and unbridled power in his hands and given his character and formation he would have used them. You were not too far out in what you said concerning Lamennais’ views. These gentlemen have always mistaken my esteem for the author with the use they imagined I made of his works, nor did they make any distinction as to period. I am also strongly in favour of the plan of action you propose to follow in his respect; for his part he ought to remove the obstacles he places to all vocations…
Letter to Hippolyte Guibert, 25 March 1833, EO VIII n 444
Again, an example of the many sensitive issues and tricky situations that Eugene had to navigate the Oblate Congregation through.