While in Rome, Eugene was still the principal Vicar General of Marseille. Tempier had informed him of some protests being made against a decision of the Bishop of Marseille by twelve priests. I reproduce this extract because it gives us an idea of some of the difficulties facing the Bishop and Eugene in correcting excesses that had crept in for after the Revolution and Marseille not having a bishop for 21 years. Eugene suffered greatly from having to be a hatchet-man in these situations.

… A Vicar General putting his name to a protest against a decision of his Bishop! This is a monstrosity which would be unbelievable if one did not know the person. This protest seemed so strange a thing here that they did not hesitate to say that all those who had signed it deserved to lose their positions. Monsignor [Fortuné] has behaved truly as a Bishop. But it must be made known once and for all to these gentlemen that the Bishop, while always ready to listen to individual observations that anyone will deem appropriate to make to him, will never accept collective petitions that he regards as contrary to the rules of discipline. Good grief! What a clergy we have at Marseilles. They have great difficulty in renouncing the democratic style and the republican system which they adopted when anarchy flourished. God forbid that one weaken before them. Watch at least over the seminary and let different attitudes be inspired in the students… Must a bishop damn himself rather than trouble them about holding on to abuses that he is obliged in conscience to reform?

Yet, Eugene realizes that, despite his strong language in private, he needs to handle the situation diplomatically.

One simply cannot show them too much displeasure over this brandishing of shields on their part!

The way to handle the situation was to do a visitation the priests.

Oh! how necessary it is to have a Visitation! One is taking place at Rome just now and the bishops who are making it, in the name of the Pope, are certainly keeping close watch, nothing escapes them. I see that instead of rest from the fatigues of my long journey, instead of tasting the sweetness of relaxing a while amongst my friends, I will have to take up arms immediately to defend us from the encroachments of Presbyterianism. It has been shown that any concession for the sake of appeasement is ruinous and will result in nothing less than the destruction of principles, and that these people do not have either the generosity or enough sense to appreciate acts of kindness, or to take into account the overtures that have been made only too often.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 March 1826, EO VII n. 229


“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Jim Rohn

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Once again I see how history repeats itself over and over. At the root of it is perhaps how we enjoy the levels of power and control which we believe that we hold. We might believe we are ‘entitled’ to it because of our status, our job, our own personal righteousness, holiness. It happens in governments, business, our church, our religious orders, our dioceses, our parishes and indeed our own lives. I know that I have taken part in this, what does it look like this close to home?

    With what Eugene is describing it can be handled with death or with life. Letters and petitions are not necessarily wrong, they can aid in getting wrongs righted. Or at their root may be a spirit of selfishness, to get our own way, to keep a way of life that is comfortable. Is it designed to tear down and destroy or to build up? I find myself wanting to tighten up with the word discipline for it is not my strong suit – I struggle with it, or with my own lack of it. As a concession I agree that discipline is a bridge between goals and accomplishment, when it is worn with the grace of love and life. Eugene had the right idea.

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