L’Arche founder Jean Vanier accused of sex abuse

L’Arche founder Jean Vanier has been accused of sexual misconduct.

The allegations follow months of investigation into the man praised by popes and politicians for his humanitarian work in establishing a global network of institutions serving adults with physical and intellectual disabilities.

The accusations involve six women of various “ages, geographic origin and status – married, unmarried, vowed celibate”, says a report following the investigation.

The identity of the women has been kept confidential. However, sexual activity with Vanier, who died in May last year aged 90, “was coerced or took place under coercive conditions”, the report says.

Four of the six women brought their allegations against Vanier after his death, while two came forward while he was still alive, the first in 2016.

They had no prior knowledge of each other’s experiences, but they “reported similar facts associated with highly unusual spiritual or mystical explanations used to justify these sexual behaviours,” the report states.

It was L’Arche itself that last April commissioned an independent U.K. consultancy organisation specialising in the reporting of exploitation and abuse, (GCPS), to investigate Vanier’s link to Fr. Thomas Philippe, whom Vanier described as his “spiritual mentor”.

Vanier wrote publicly in 2015 about the revelations of abuse committed by his spiritual mentor, whose wisdom and dedication to the disabled he said had inspired his own life of service.

The GCPS report’s discoveries “shocked” l’Arche International leaders Stephan Posner and Stacy Cates-Carney.

They “unreservedly condemn these actions, which are in total contradiction with the values Jean Vanier claimed and are incompatible with the basic rules of respect and integrity of persons, and contrary to the fundamental principles on which L’Arche is based”.

“The considerable good [Vanier] did throughout his life is not in question,” Posner says.

L’Arche will “nevertheless have to mourn a certain image we may have had of Jean,” he added.

According to archived letters studied in the report, the CDF directed in 1956 that Jean Vanier be informed of the Church’s condemnation of Philippe’s conduct and “mystical doctrine.”

Despite this, Vanier denied in 2015 and 2016 that he had any knowledge of Philippe’s abusive behaviour.

The report says Vanier’s behaviour follows the pattern of sexually inappropriate behaviour demonstrated by Philippe.



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