Jean Vanier and L’Arche

 

Sir, – We have been utterly dismayed to hear confirmation of the spiritual and sexual abuse of women committed by Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche and Faith and Light movements (“L’Arche founder implicated in sexual abuse of women”, News, February 22nd). This news, emerging from an independent inquiry commissioned by L’Arche itself, comes as a terrible shock to the many people around the world, including the undersigned, who revered Jean Vanier and who continue to support the movements he founded. We condemn this abuse unreservedly. We express our support for the women who came forward, and admiration for their courage. We deeply regret the suffering they have undergone.

L’Arche and Faith and Light are more than Jean Vanier. They are networks of ordinary people, with and without learning disabilities, celebrating the shared value of our humanity. Members have dedicated and entrusted their lives to the vision of community that Jean Vanier taught. His abuse betrays and affects all who support these movements. We strongly believe in their past, present and future worth, and will continue to offer our full support to their members. We also affirm our support for L’Arche International, who carried out their key responsibility for the integrity of the movement by commissioning the independent inquiry. We are thankful that those with learning disabilities were not among the abused.

All friends of the L’Arche and Faith and Light movements will need to take time to grieve and to reflect. Both movements teach and demonstrate the key role played by those with learning disabilities in transforming human relationships. We continue to celebrate and support this unique gift to the world. – Yours, etc,

MARY McALEESE,

President

of Ireland 1997-2011;

MICHEAL O’SIADHAIL,

Poet;

DAVID FORD,

Regius Professor

of Divinity Emeritus,

University of Cambridge.