THE VICTIM OF A GOVERNMENT INTRIGUE

Eugene had dropped everything in Marseilles to rush to Rome to respond to the Pope’s urgent call. Yet, when he arrived in Rome, it took the Pope two weeks before he received Eugene in audience.

Gradually it became clear to Eugene that he was the victim of the political intrigues of the French government, and also of lack of communication between two of the Vatican dicasteries. The details are too complicated to deal with in this blog, but I refer you to the article “Icosia” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/icosia-bishop-of/ and chapter 5 of the book by Hubenig and Motte, Living in the Spirit’s Fire https://www.omiworld.org/wp-content/uploads/Living-in-the-Spirits-Fire.pdf

Eugene explained the discovery of the reason for his call to Rome to Fr Tempier:

The Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda… welcomed me with his usual kindness. He confirmed my suspicions of Saturday, namely that I am the victim of a governmental intrigue…
The whole thing is nothing but an intrigue of the French Government which wished to suppress the diocese of Marseilles and fears my influence in the country. It is a poor government that does not realize what it owes me precisely by reason of that influence it so foolishly dreads.
Complaint was laid before the Pope, threats made to charge me before the courts on the ground that I had been ordained bishop without consultation. How I wish I had known about this charge before leaving!
…It is by means of harassments of this sort that these gentlemen think to win the support of the clergy! I have just been told that the “Gazette du Midi” (one of the local Provence newspapers) reports certain other facts which prove that someone has set about subverting in particular the ecclesiastical administration at Marseilles. This, in the light of moves made elsewhere, is proof of the method that they wish to adopt, namely, the suppression of this ancient diocese to the confusion of a great and predominantly Catholic population

Letter to Henri Tempier, 20 August 1833, EO VIII n 454

Jesus also faced this problem – and his followers continue to experience it today in many parts of the world.

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One Response to THE VICTIM OF A GOVERNMENT INTRIGUE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett says:

    I think of Eugene’s life thus far and of his total giving of himself to God and the Church – there was no mediocrity at all. His response to the Pope’s request to go to Rome was immediate and in silence (he was not granted the time to gather reinforcements or ‘allies’, or to retaliate in any way).

    Betrayal by another or others can be painful, causing us to strike out or to stand true in the face of it. I think for a moment of the life of St. John of the Cross – in his case it was members of his own community who acted against him in the most punishing of manners. For Eugene it is a matter of his government and in the silence of the Church at that time.

    This period of Eugene’s life again calls me to look at my own life in the light of Eugene’s life and I am not exactly comfortable with this today. What might this look like today in daily life – one group or one person pitted against another(s)? What part has silence, perhaps my own silence played? Has it happened to me, and if so how have I reacted or responded? Do I take part in power-plays or in trying to cut another down? Do I side with the power or the crowd? And what is my response in the light of small betrayals? Do I strike out or do I stand as Jesus did before Pilate and as Eugene will before Rome and the French government?

    My thoughts betray me for although I do not always ‘act’ them out, they arise from a very human place within and betray me. Like Jesus when he told Peter to “get behind me Satan” I too must acknowledge my own darkness and weaknesses and put them behind me.

    Eugene continues to shed light on my life today. I ‘take heart’ in that.

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