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13 September 1854 - Father Joseph-André Chevron to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Tonga

Translated by Sr Marie Challacombe SM, December 2015

Father Colin superior general of the Society of Mary
Montée Saint Barthélemy
Lyon, France

Tonga, 13 Sept. 1854

Very Reverend Father,
Not having been able to send my first letters in time, I am adding this little note. Over the last two or three months we have had at least 60 conversions from the heretics. There is a general movement towards us which leaves practically no doubt that Tonga will be predominantly catholic. Still the missionaries and the catechists are making new efforts; once again neophytes are being chased away from their places where they had been at peace, and that is simply out of fear of the great Wesleyan chief. These days we are expecting more new hassles, but we are confident that it will only be a trial.
As I have said in my other letters we are embarrassed about the marriages. We have formulated some questions the answers to which would greatly help us to sort this out. I am sending you these questions begging you to seek some solutions from competent sources. They would have the further advantage of putting some uniformity into the missions, where opposing decisions seem to be made.
I am honoured to be, with the deepest respect,
Very reverend father,
Your very humble and obedient servant,
Joseph Chevron
1. Should the heretics submit to all the canonical impediments required in those places where catholic missionaries establish the religion, either among the heretics, or among the faithful?
2. Are they to submit by the fact of the establishing of the religion? Or should the religion make an allowance which would serve as promulgation? In this case what allowance is necessary? Should it, for example, be dominant?
3. Does the impediment of clandestinity require a specific promulgation?
4. If it does not require specific promulgation, one must regard as null the marriages done by heretical ministers in those places where recourse to the catholic priest does not offer major difficulty.
5. If it demands a particular promulgation, what is this promulgation?
6. For the canonical impediments, should those heretics who have never professed the catholic religion be included with those who have themselves apostatised?
7. Wouldn’t there have to be a difference between them at least with regard to the impediment of clandestinity?