Félicité de Lamennais was a priest much admired by Eugene for his ideals and his writings. During the anti-religious upheavals, however, he began to express the notion that the long-standing bond between the Church and the State should be separated. Eugene, seeing the Church through the eyes of royalist principles, strongly disagreed. (Cf. http://www.omiworld.org/en/dictionary/historical-dictionary_vol-1_l/778/lamennais-f-licit-de/ )

… If the doctrines of M. de Lamennais are the same as those stated by his disciples, I renounce him completely. I am revolted by the trends of the “Memorial” and the “Revue.” Into what sort of principles do they want to drag the Catholics? As soon as our subscription is finished, cease to renew it…
Great God! Into what deviations the human spirit sinks by wishing to assimilate the most contrary theories! They finish by losing all reason.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 13 September 1830, EO VII n 363

Several of the younger Oblates belonged to the same school of thought as Lamennais

…When our subscriptions to the “Memorial” and to “L’Avenir” are expired, I do not wish them to be renewed. Write this to Notre Dame du Laus and to Aix. I am not in a mood to pay so dearly for the extravagances of the school of M. de Lamennais and I would be inconsolable should anyone amongst us be taken by these crazy notions.

While disagreeing with his ideas, Eugene admires the talents of the man.

It is a great pity to see a man of his genius waste time writing newspaper articles in order to establish a ridiculous system which presumes that Catholics are in power in France while not even having a party… Much more could be said about this. Let him rather busy himself bringing to completion the writings which Europe awaits with rightful impatience. Therein lies the vocation of this great man, and he is not responding to it.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 26 October 1830, EO VII n 368

“A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the ‘I’ and its whims as the ultimate measure. We have another measure: the Son of God, true man.”     Pope Benedict

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The Oblate Studies course has barely begun but my viewpoint is widening as is the engagement of my heart. An opening up to more and seeing a little differently – even with my reflection this morning. Today will be day three and yet I find myself looking at Eugene’s statement of “It is a great pity to see a man of his genius waste time writing newspaper articles in order to establish a ridiculous system which presumes that Catholics are in power in France while not even having a party” from a very different view point than I might have had last week. Perhaps there is a deepening.

    I think of Eugene subscribing to a journal so that the other Oblates and those studying to become Oblates would be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking (that could have been thought of as pretty risky). Yvon Beaudoin wrote that “The Founder did, however, make a distinction between the tenets that he rejected and the man whose talent he admired.” Eugene was to later support Félicité de Lamennais to the Church, even while not agreeing with his work.

    I think of the times when changes in thinking entered into my small world, calling me to look with a broader and different view, seeing it all differently. I remember the struggle within, with both the new ideas and ways of seeing, and with the friend suggesting the new way of seeing. How do I keep one and not the other? What is the balance that I needed to find – then and now? How have I, am I, learning to love the person while not agreeing with what that person is saying or doing?

    This all seems to require great trust – in God and in the heart which God has given to me. Pope Benedict’s words describe most perfectly what can be seen in the world today. At the end of the day there is that absolute and ultimate measure in my life, in my being – Jesus the Christ. That I will not deny or try to lessen with reason.

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