Jean Vanier, Catholic figure accused of sexual assault, subject of a new report


The influence exercised by Jean Vanier, a Catholic spiritual figure who died in 2019 and accused of sexual assault in a 2020 report, appears to be broader at the end of a new independent report commissioned by the association l'Arche and published on Monday.

L'Arche, a federation of associations founded by Jean Vanier and which welcomes people with intellectual disabilities in 38 countries, unveiled an internal report in February 2020 conducted by an independent body, claiming that Jean Vanier had had with six adult women (and not disabled), some of whom are vulnerable, "from sexual relations, generally within the framework of spiritual accompaniment, and some of which have kept deep wounds".

On Monday, an independent study commission, set up in November 2020 by l'Arche internationale and made up of six researchers, delivered its conclusions, which also relate to the Dominican Thomas Philippe, the chaplain of l'Arche and spiritual father of Jean Vanier died in 1993.

This 900-page document, sent to the press, reveals that 25 adult women, single, married or consecrated, without disabilities, have been identified for having "experienced, at some point in their relationship with Jean Vanier, a situation involving a sexual act or an intimate gesture”, between “1952 and 2019”.

“Some presented themselves as victims of an abusive relationship, others rather as consenting partners in a transgressive relationship. These relationships (…) are all part of a continuum of confusion, control and abuse, “said L’Arche, in a separate press release.

“Emprise, sexual abuse, collective delirium, deviation of notions at the heart of Christianity, incestuous representations of the relationship between Jesus and Mary” were the “mechanisms deployed” by both Jean Vanier and Thomas Philippe, summarizes the report.

In the press release, the leaders of L'Arche International, Stephan Posner and Stacy Cates Carney, expressed their "dismay" and "unreservedly condemned the actions" of the two men.

"L'Arche recognizes its responsibility for not having been able to prevent these abuses, to identify them, or to report them, and consequently, or to put a stop to them", writes the association.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: Creative Commons / Wikimedia

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