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This week, I learn that his own creation, L’Arche International, the organization that operates 154 homes for mentally and physically disabled people in 38 countries around the world, released a report that he had had sexual relations with six women.
None of them, I’m relieved to hear, were among the disabled persons served by L’Arche homes.
But all six had Vanier as their spiritual director. Which means they were in an unequal relationship with him. Which he exploited.
The relationships, said the report, were “emotionally abusive and characterised by significant imbalances of power, whereby the alleged victims felt deprived of their free will and so the sexual activity was coerced or took place under coercive conditions.”
The charges are not mere rumours. L’Arche might be expected to defend its founder’s reputation.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Jean Vanier, L'Arche, sex crimes
The news on Tuesday that Jean Vanier had died hit me like a punch in the gut. Tears welled up, unbidden.
I can’t claim that I knew him personally. But that’s not quite accurate. Because everyone knew him personally. That’s the kind of person he was. He wasn’t paying attention to the person behind you. He didn’t care if you were a prime minister or a corporate CEO or Mother Teresa — you, as you, mattered.
He was an unprepossessing speaker, by conventional standards. He ambled on stage, almost shambled on, 6-feet-4-inches looking as if he had slept in his clothes, with a great hooked nose that hung over the microphone.
And a smile that stretched from here to eternity.
He talked as if there was only one person out there — and it was you.
Tags: Jean Vanier, L'Arche, love