The priests were furious with Eugene’s reply and the matter was to go much further and eventually to reach the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Paris. The problem was not the Youth Congregation, but the existence of the community of Missionaries, with their independent church and attractive ministry over which the local parish priests had no control. There had been no Archbishop in Aix since 1815. The diocese was being run by the Capitular Vicars, of which Guigou was the only one who favoured and protected Eugene and his Missionaries.
Eugene wrote to his friend Forbin Janson, in Paris, about the critical situation:
For goodness sake, be on the look-out for the archbishop they are to give us, so as to put me in his good graces. Otherwise our house will fall to the ground; the wind and tide are against the missionaries. We go forward because we have on our side a Grand Vicar (Guigou); but woe if he gives in. All would be lost…
Letter to Forbin Janson, mid-1816, O.W. VI n.9
Leflon takes up the story by stating that Eugene
now realized how completely the survival of his frail and beleaguered Society rested upon the support of diocesan authorities, and how precarious that support was. Even if, in the present crisis, Guigou did hold firm, the latter’s administration of the diocese was nearing its end and there was no guarantee that the new archbishop, whose nomination was expected momentarily, would be favorably disposed toward the Missionaries of Provence…
Thus, it became necessary to seek protection elsewhere. With his natural talent for making decisions in an emergency, the Founder now turned to the Royal government for official authorization which would give his Institute legal status and legal protection. So urgent did it seem that he set out for Paris on July 9, thereby sacrificing presiding, personally, at the all-important First Communion of his sodalists on July 13, the reason for the whole quarrel. To throw the hounds off the scent, inasmuch as he had to anticipate the accusations and maneuvers of the Aix clergy, his mother was instructed to inform anyone asking tactless questions that her son was away on family business, which would detain him until the winter.
Actually, although the Superior took advantage of the opportunity afforded by his trip to serve the best interests of his father and his uncle, the danger threatening his newly-formed Society was what actually decided him to make an abrupt departure for the capital. His main concern at Paris was to defend his “religious family,” which was being attacked out of malice, and to assure its future.
Leflon, II p.58