Ireland’s former president threatens Pope

Ireland’s former president Mary McAleese has written to the Pope saying she’ll leave the the Catholic Church if it is found the Vatican “failed to act to protect members of the L’Arche community” from the community’s founder Jean Vanier.

In her letter to the pope (which she published on her personal website on 26 February) McAleese said she was “disturbed by aspects” of the L’Arche investigation into Vanier which “implicate the Holy See in a way that demands explanation.”

She pointed to Vanier’s relationship with Father Thomas Philippe OP, who was implicated in the sexual abuse of women during spiritual counseling from the 1950’s.

“Given that vulnerable men and women were the intended beneficiaries of L’Arche and that Vanier was consistently lauded by the Church at the highest level without the remotest suggestion that there was anything worrying in his character it is essential that the Holy See now explains how it came to so publicly commend a man whose predatory proclivities it was aware of,” her letter says.

“What steps if any did the Holy See take to interrupt the growth of the powerful cult of Vanier by warning the many good men and women who trusted him in good faith that he had an alarming past?”

“I have no doubt that L’Arche will recover and continue its great work for it has its owns integrity which is more than capable of transcending the Vanier betrayal. I am not so sure about whether trust in the Holy See will recover so easily,” she said.

“Many times in recent years I have had reason to despair at the failures at papal, episcopal and Curial level regarding the protection of vulnerable children and the vindication of victims. Rebuilding trust is a work in the very early stages of progress.”

“If … the Holy See failed to act to protect members of the L’Arche community by alerting them to the known predatory activities of Vanier and Philippe … this will be my final line of least resistance.”

“I could not in conscience continue to support an institution capable of such gross negligence.”

McAleese has a canon law degree from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.

Vanier founded L’Arche in 1964 to work with the intellectually disabled.

He developed a community model where people with disabilities lived with the people who assisted them.

Although Vanier was a Catholic, L’Arche isn’t affiliated with any religious denomination.

After Vanier’s death last year, Francis thanked God for his ministry and called him a “great witness.”

Late last month, L’Arche International announced that credible complaints has led them to believe Vanier had sexually abused at least six women under the pretext of spiritual counseling.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,