The following interesting questions were posed by a researcher to the Vincentian History Researchers Network
- Was there any opposition to the founding of the CM?
- Did Vincent endure any ‘costly grace’ for seeking to found an order to address formation of the clergy?
- At any point were the Vincentians on the ‘margins of the Church’ in order to call the Church to more faithful discipleship?
The paper this person is working on will focus “on organizations at the margins of the Church which call the center of the Church to faithful discipleship. Given constraints I will focus on lay organizations but want to include how some religious communities have likewise experienced ‘costly grace’ in their effort to faithfully serve the mission of Christ.”
Fr. Ed Udovic, CM responded as follows.
1. There was some opposition to the foundation of the Congregation of the Mission from the diocesan clergy, and others. Vincent addressed this by making it clear that the community would not compete for benefices, nor work in the cities, and would only work with the permission of the local bishop and pastors.
2. The Tridentine reform of the French church was widely supported by the crown, the church itself, the clergy, and the faithful even though it was delayed, and took place later than in other European Catholic countries. The “mission” of the Congregation of the Mission was acknowledged as needed both by the crown and the papacy which led to royal and papal approval of the new community. Though there were always vested interested to contend with, Vincent was able to be effective and a reformer because the tipping point of reform had taken place.
In Vincent’s time he (and the community he founded) did not operate at the margins of the church. He and the community worked from the heart of the church as united to the state and called attention to the poor who lived at the margins, calling these institutions and the faithful to live up to their charitable responsibilities.
Vincent’s work on the Council of Conscience trying to improve the quality of bishops and other high ecclesiastical officials was an example of a reform that everyone admitting in theory needed to take place, but were often willing to compromise on as a matter of political, or other expediencies. Vincent’s opposition to appointments of unworthy ecclesiastics again wasn’t from the margins but from the heart of the system.