In the ongoing smear-campaign against Eugene an article of Martin-Lazare had been published on July 10 in the anti-religious Sémaphore newspaper. It claimed that Cardinal Pacca, who was the Pope’s Secretary of State, had written to the Bishop of Icosia to reprimand him for how terrible his administration of the diocese of Marseilles had been.

Eugene writes to Henri Tempier, who was Vicar General of the diocese:

However absurd the article you have forwarded to me may be, I wouldn’t have thought it wise to leave it unanswered. You had the evidence that the writer was a police connection, since you had in truth received a letter addressed to me from Cardinal Pacca and only the police could have given him this information.

The author of the article had been informed of a letter arriving from the Cardinal and used the opportunity to invent a malicious story about its contents. Eugene proposed:

But by letting it be known that the content of the letter was full of kindness, as are all His Eminence’s letters, you would be laying a charge of flagrant calumny against the article’s worthless author, and so that everyone might have the opportunity of learning the truth, after having read it to the Gazette, you would deposit the original at the secretariat in the Bishop’s Palace with instructions to show it to all who want to see it.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 13&14 July 1835, EO VIII n 522

Eugene’s life and actions had always been a witness to the words of Jesus: “The truth will set you free” – John 8:31.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It would be easy to get caught up in what is written here today. It is not about what Henri Tempier did or did not do, or even why he did not take steps as Eugene suggested he might have done. It is about more than the ongoing empty hatred and dis-information that Fr. Martin-Lazare has been spreading anonymously and unnamed in an anti-religious newspaper. Certainly the quickly growing and spreading hatred and false witness against Eugene plays a large part of what is happening to and with him as it seems to devour his truth.

    So the “truth will set you free” – what is that all about? I remember when I was ‘drinking and drugging’ my way through life and how there was always a small place within me that I knew the truth, that I somehow recognized the truth when it was spoken to me – I could not completely silence it or run fast enough or far enough away from it.

    I believe it is the truth that resides and has it’s being within us that will set us free. Eugene himself knew what the truth was. His life was a witness to that truth. And though he seemed to be bound by the limitations imposed upon him by the government of France and the silence which the Church made him obedient to – he was able to hold within him a great freedom for he knew from the inside-out what the real truth was and it he lived from there.

    I am thinking at this moment of the word ‘oblation’ and how when we give ourselves so totally to God in whatever role God has called us to – then we too give witness to the words of Jesus and how that truth within us does set us free. When we allow light to be shone on those dark places within us we too become free; as Jesus spoke about and which Eugene experienced and lived.

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