February 22, 2020
[With links to report annd documents.]
On February 22nd, 2020, the leaders of L’Arche International sent a letter to the Federation of L’Arche Communities, which operates in 38 countries worldwide, publishing the results of an inquiry that had commissioned from an independent organization. The inquiry included testimony implicating its founder, Jean Vanier, and his historical link to Father Thomas Philippe, who he thought of as his spiritual father.
The investigation was carried out by GCPS, an independent U.K. consultancy which specializes in improving procedures for the prevention and reporting of abuse. In addition, L'Arche International established an Independent Oversight Committee made up of two former senior civil servants in France, to assess the integrity and reliability of the inquiry’s process and findings. Following their review of the report they stated: “We have no reason to question the methodology of the inquiry and the seriousness with which it was carried out. We therefore consider these conclusions to be well founded.”
The inquiry received credible and consistent testimonies from six adult women without disabilities, covering the period from 1970 to 2005. The women each report that Jean Vanier initiated sexual relations with them, usually in the context of spiritual accompaniment. Although they had no prior knowledge of each other’s experiences, these women reported similar facts associated with highly unusual spiritual or mystical explanations used to justify these behaviors. The relationships were found to be manipulative and emotionally abusive, and had a significant negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships. These actions are indicative of a deep psychological and spiritual hold Jean Vanier had on these women and confirm his own adoption of some of Father Thomas Philippe’s deviant theories and practices.
The inquiry made no suggestion that Jean Vanier had inappropriate relationships with people with intellectual disabilities.
Alongside the GCPS inquiry, L’Arche International commissioned a major piece of historical research based on previously unseen archives. Analysis of the various archives reveals the sources of Jean Vanier's attitude towards these women, and confirms that he adopted some of Father Thomas Philippe's deviant theories and practices.