The Pope and the authorities at the Vatican were steering a delicate political situation with the French government because they saw the larger picture of maintaining relations between Church and state. In the process they “sacrificed” Eugene, who wrote to the Vatican:

[…] So as not to cause the least distress to the Holy Father, I have instructed my advocate to abandon my action and withdraw my appeal…

Eugene feels misunderstood and abandoned by those in the Church whom he had served so faithfully:

Bishop Capaccini is happily undisturbed in the Quirinal, he pays no heed to the quality and immensity of the sacrifice made by a Bishop who abandons his rights and disarms in the face of an astute and powerful enemy, quite ready to abuse his victory and walk all over me as he likes.

Eugene had always been loyal to the Pope, in the face of fierce opposition as being “ultramontane.” The extent of his sense of abandonment by the Vicar of Christ, leads him to write these bitter words:

Enclosed is a copy of my letter to the Ministry of Worship. In it you will see I leave everything and abandon myself to Divine Providence. I wish I could add “and to the benevolence of the Holy Father”, but I hope for little from that quarter. The Holy Father, if I understand him correctly, has placed no value on either my character or my services, which gave me a right to his protection, nor on the affection accorded me by Leo XII and Pius VIII. If persecution drives me into exile from my country and to withdraw to Rome, I know I may not count on either grace or favour; my reward must come from God.

We touch the fullness of his pain in this letter.

I wish I had a less sensitive heart, I would love less, be less tied up in a host of things which affect me very deeply within and I would be happy.

Letter to Bishop Frezza, Secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Affairs at the  Vatican, 28 November 1834, EO XV n 175

Beaudoin concludes the narrative:

“He passes the winter of 1834-1835 at Marseilles, but in the spring he sees that his position is untenable… and leaves for L’Osier and N.-D. du Laus. There he will stay until the end of October.” (EO 8 pages XXV-XXVI)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning’s reflection with Eugene is neither comfortable nor easy to sit with. What more can be said when a person is scapegoated, sacrificed? Isn’t this exactly what happened to Jesus 2000 years ago? And I am reminded that we will soon be moving into Lent.

    Eugene felt that he had no alternative but to ‘abandon himself to Divine Providence – exactly as Jesus had done – but that neither dulled his senses or took away the pain of betrayal and abandonment. Like Jesus he recognized what was going on: “The Holy Father, if I understand him correctly, has placed no value on either my character or my services…” Eugene did not ‘languish in playing the part of a victim’; giving lip service and speaking empty words of hope and trust in God. He suffered – greatly; however his oblation, his allowing God to lead him, his obedience to the will of God – was so complete that he could do nothing less than comply with the Holy Father – believing, hoping, trusting that God would care for him.

    It would seem that in the midst of our sufferings and trials we are limited to seeing only the betrayal, the abandonment and pain. But once we come through the other side we are able to rejoice and give thanks. Had I not known the pain and hopelessness of addiction; the dehumanizing darkness of abandonment – I would not know the indescribable joy of walking in the light or the sweet delight of being a part of something so much bigger than myself.

    Eugene did not go looking for trouble or suffering, but he did allow himself to be led through it. It is important to recognize and remember this for it is from these betrayals that he learned and was filled with a deeper compassion and strength to continue moving outward – away from himself.

    Monday – a new day, a new week – new life.

  2. Jack Lau says:

    Yes, these are some of the saddest and most demoralizing of any of Eugene’s letter. Thank you for sharing them with us and may they give us hope in our own challenging days.

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