Finally Eugene met the Pope and was able to begin to understand the mess which the political intrigue had caused.

… The audience with the Pope was closed to all but myself and the ministers. I was with His Holiness for a very long time. Well now! after the government had made futile protestations against my elevation to the episcopate, since it could not deny the Holy See an authority it exercises every day, another line of attack was prepared and they let it be known confidentially that, since I was a well-known Carlist leader and was holding political meetings in the Bishop’s Palace, it would be necessary to prosecute me before the courts;

“Carlist” refers to those in France who regarded King Charles as the last legitimate king, and the current King Louis Philippe as an illegal usurper. While Eugene was certainly no fan of the present king, the allegations made by the government were untrue. The French authorities, however, threatened to prosecute him on these subversive (yet untrue) charges, and thought that getting the Pope to intervene would be one way to solve the problem.

that this would be the subject of an official note unless the Pope wisely intervened, as was the hope, for it would be very distasteful to the Government to be reduced to the extremity of bringing a bishop before the courts. The Pope, in good faith and to shield me from this dishonour, issued his summons. If I had been told why, you know I would have replied in proper manner, and since I have made no moves, or said a single word in favour of the Carlist cause, granted even there be such a cause, seeing that my principles are that the clergy has enough on its hands to defend the faith without getting mixed up in politics. I would have gone to the courts myself if needs be, sure of carrying the day. Since I am here, I shall see the matter through…

Letter to Henri Tempier, 28 August 1833, EO VIII n 458

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    A mixed bag for Eugene: to learn what all the haste and secrecy was about and to be able to state that the Pope was well aware of how Eugene would respond to the ‘trumped up’ charges leveled against him.

    I think for a moment of how difficult it is to walk in darkness – the darkness of not knowing what is happening; the darkness of not being in control. And yet for Eugene the darkness was not complete because his response had been one of obedience and so was lit by faith and trust rather than bitterness and a desire to retaliate. The word ‘discernment’ has been on my mind of late and so I am reminded of standing in the silence of discernment, listening and waiting with patience and trust, with total faith in God.

    I add to that the idea of obedience; the obedience of Mary in her fiat – her oblation and the obedience of Jesus to his father and mother, to God – his obedience to the Spirit. Obedience born and given out of trust and love; not always ‘easy’ to accept and stand in.

    Eugene stood in that small light of obedience, of trust and fidelity to and in the Church and the Pontiff; an obedience of ‘here I am Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word’. This had been his response since his Good Friday experience when his eyes met those of his beloved Saviour. It was his response again as he wrote to Tempier: “Since I am here, I shall see the matter through…”

    It is doubtful that most of us will ever have the Lord speak directly to us through the Pope, but perhaps we might listen a little more deeply to what our family and friends suggest, to what our bosses and superiors ask of us. I think of how the angel appeared to Mary in the ordinary of her day; of how the Pope called upon Eugene in the ordinary of his day.

    Who does God speak through to me in the ordinary of my days, who helps to clarify the situations I am in? Community…

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