This May be a Turning Point in the Way the Catholic Church Deals with Sex Abuse
Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner March 5, 2020
Jean Vanier speaks in London March 11, 2015. An internal report reveals that L’Arche founder Jean Vanier, a respected Canadian religious figure, sexually abused at least six women. LEFTERIS PITARAKIS/AP
The depressing news about L'Arche founder Jean Vanier's abuse of six women who were associated with L'Arche over a 25-year period, and who came to him for spiritual counsel, has some salutary lessons for us.
The first that strikes me is that no one should be put on a pedestal of holiness by others. Such an attitude reveals an unhealthy attachment, which is encouraged by all kinds of modern celebrity, but is essentially a dependence, an immaturity on the part of the devout, the penitent, and the vulnerable.
Religious figures, especially, may appropriate to themselves a kind of virtuousness that impresses some but which we should find suspect, because it tempts the counsellor to exploit.
Therefore, no hero worship in any community of believers, no matter the community.
Vanier, the fourth of five children of former Gov-Gen Georges Vanier and his wife, Pauline Archer Vanier, of Quebec, founded the L'Arche movement outside Paris 50 years ago.
L'Arche, now in 38 countries, brings together the intellectually disabled with the able-bodied in mutual friendship and living arrangements. Vanier died last May at age 90.
Over the years, he wrote spiritual books, gave retreats, delivered the Massey Lectures, was honoured with the Order of Canada and had many schools named after him. He seemed above reproach.
Only after his death did L'Arche initiate an investigation carried out by a reputable English firm, GCPS Consulting, which works with organizations globally to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable people. It issued a 48-page report in early February.
It revealed that Mr Vanier had been influenced by a disgraced Dominican priest named Fr. Thomas Philippe for many years, and had taken advantage of women in sexually abusive relations. In the words of the report, "coercive and non-consensual." Jean Vanier claimed to be an instrument of God, and said that the women should submit in order to be healed. He referred to scripture, at times to the Song of Songs.
Then he lied about having anything to do with Fr. Philippe, yet defended him publicly in 2009. It is the abuse, the lies and the hypocrisy that has shaken Canadians. Continue Reading >HERE<
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