Letters of Marcellin – 015

Marcellin Champagnat


On 20th January 1830, Bishop de Pins published a decree revoking the faculty, which all priests possessing faculties for ordinary cases had possessed until then, to grant absolution for reserved sins. Fr. Champagnat requested that this faculty be restored to him and his confrères, so that they could exercise their ministry more fully, whether at the Hermitage or in the missions they were called on to preach.

According to Fr. Jean Coste (OM, I, p. 485), it is almost certain that the Founder ultimately did not send this letter; but he must have repeated his request at a later date, since the favor he asked was granted on 31st March by Bishop de Pins Council (O.M., I, 492, doc. 215).

In any event, this letter shows us Fr. Champagnats determination to work for the establishment of the Marist Fathers in his own diocese.

N.D. de lHermitage, 12th February 1830

Father Vicar General,

According to the decree of His Lordship, which has just been promulgated, and which grants the faculty to absolve in reserved cases only to the immovable pastors and to other priests to whom it is judged appropriate to restore it, I think I should explain my situation to you. Although we have not received a copy of this wise ruling, we presume that it has effectively removed this faculty from the priests at the Hermitage. Consider, Fr. Vicar General, whether we should ask you to renew these faculties for the four priests of our society in this diocese: Fathers SĂ©on, Bourdin, Pompallier and myself.

We are often enough asked to help out in parishes and to give retreats. Besides, when we are in residence here, very few days go by without different persons from different parts of the country coming to make extraordinary confessions, and we often need the whole range of faculties for reserved cases. Two of us are already just about to leave for St-Priest to give two fifteen-day retreats. The first begins next Sunday, so please give us a prompt reply.

I believe I should also ask you to grant Fr. Pompallier, who has been here for six months, the same faculties as the rest of us, since after he has preached individual sermons in neighboring parishes, he is sometimes asked to hear someones confession the minute he steps down from the pulpit, and he is obliged to refuse, since he has faculties only for the Hermitage and for persons who occasionally ask him to hear their confessions there.

This is the situation of the priests of our society, who are very pleased with your benevolent administration and who have for Your Excellency the greatest respect and the most devoted submission.

It is in these same sentiments that I have the honor to be, Father Vicar General,

Your most humble and obedient servant,

Champagnat, priest

Edition: Translation from: Lettres de Marcellin J. B. Champagnat (1789-1840) Fondateur de l?Institut des Frères Maristes, présentés par Frère Paul Sester,1985.

fonte: Daprès une copie contenue dans un Registre de copies des écrits du Fondateur RCEF, 6, pp. 378-380; éditée dans OM, I, pp. 485-487


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