I WOULD HAVE THE APPEARANCE OF HAVING BEEN SENT AWAY AS A PENANCE BY THE POPE

As we reflect on this period of conflict that Eugene was living, let us remember the personal suffering he was undergoing. Persecuted by the government, removed as Vicar General to his Uncle Bishop Fortuné in Marseilles, and not experiencing any support from the Pope who was in an awkward situation trying to bring maintain political expediency with the government for the sake of the welfare of the Church in France. In the center of all this was the suffering of a person.

The French government had engineered a situation where they were attempting to pressurize the Pope to take action against Eugene, whom they wanted sent away from France. Eugene ‘s message to the Pope was:

But this does not go so far as agreeing to leave France… It is also to do oneself too much violence to condemn oneself, for the satisfaction of a government, to a perpetual exile.

If Eugene did not leave France then the authorities pressurized the Pope to remove him from Marseilles. Eugene’s response:

Likewise I am not decided to go and stay outside Marseilles… really it would be incomprehensible why I would go to live in another town; it would give rise to the worst impression: I would have the appearance of having been sent away as a penance by the Pope, while in reality I would be being persecuted by the government, which would seem not to have anything to do with it, and which would exploit the Sovereign Pontiff to punish me for not being to its liking.

The heart of the matter was:

The truth is I am by no means hostile to the government; I am doing nothing against it, although it might well be true that it does not fill me with enthusiasm. It is because I stay clear of politics and am unassailable on that point that the intervention of the Sovereign Pontiff is sought. I hope that this odious tactic will not succeed and that I will remain at my post.

Letter to Baron D Papassian in Rome, 14 May 1834, EO XV n 173

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One Response to I WOULD HAVE THE APPEARANCE OF HAVING BEEN SENT AWAY AS A PENANCE BY THE POPE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    There will always be those who will look at what was happening to Eugene and say that he brought it on himself – indeed the Pope must have sent him away because of his own bad-doing, his sin. We see this occurring in many of our own countries involving many who are in power, who will not tolerate anything less than having full control. It is not confined to governments, for we see it also in business, in our churches, our communities and even our families.

    Eugene was a very smart man who recognized exactly what was happening. He was not paranoid, nor did he see himself as the eternal victim – he saw what was being done by and with the government and his beloved Church. Once again I am reminded of Jesus on the Cross, Eugene’s very model in and of life.

    Looking at the world today – not through eyes filled with despair, and not through eyes that have been covered over with fine layers of what appear to be reason or even goodness. “The truth is I am by no means hostile to the government; I am doing nothing against it, although it might well be true that it does not fill me with enthusiasm. It is because I stay clear of politics and am unassailable on that point that the intervention of the Sovereign Pontiff is sought… ” Simply having the courage to look clearly and honestly and recognize what is being done is what is called for. And then standing in that, discerning and asking God where we are to be, how we are to be, what are we called to – that is what Eugene did.

    Most importantly though we must never lose sight of what is happening in all of it – we are called as Frank states, to remember: “In the centre of all this was the suffering of a person.” Otherwise we may well find ourselves following in the ways that appear to be born out of reason and necessity but which have different roots entirely.

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