The Study Commission presents its report on Jean Vanier and Thomas Philippe
On 30 January 2023, the members of the Study Commission – set up in November 2020 by L’Arche International – published their report.
This document of more than 900 pages confirms, among other things, what L’Arche made public in February 2020 (at the conclusion of the investigation it had entrusted to an independent body and a historian), in particular Jean Vanier’s adherence to the doctrines of his spiritual father, Thomas Philippe, and to the abusive practices related to them.
Following this investigation in 2020, in which its founder was seriously implicated, L’Arche decided to set up a Study Commission in order to better understand Jean Vanier’s life orientation, the founding history of L’Arche and the institutional dynamics at work within the organisation. The Study Commission worked independently, backed by a Scientific Committee in charge of monitoring its work.
The leaders of L’Arche International, Stephan Posner and Stacy Cates-Carney, write in their letter to the members of L’Arche: “We are appalled [by the story detailed in the report and the way in which Jean Vanier was intimately involved] and we once again condemn, without reservation, the actions of Jean Vanier and Thomas Philippe which are in total contradiction with the elementary rules of respect and integrity of persons, and contrary to the fundamental principles of our communities.
We sincerely ask for forgiveness from the people who were victims of this abuse. We again express our gratitude to those who, a few years ago, broke the silence about Father Thomas Philippe and then about Jean Vanier and thus helped others to free themselves from an intolerable burden.
We recognise our institutional responsibility for failing to spot these abuses, report them and forestall them. At the same time, we feel that our founder’s adherence to the doctrines of Thomas Philippe and the reproduction of his practices, their concealment and the lies that followed, constitute a serious breach of trust towards L’Arche and its members. ‘’
The two international leaders add: “What justifies L’Arche is not its founder, but the life of its members, with and without disabilities, at the service of a more human society. This task of re-reading our past, will help us remain faithful to this commitment.”
Furthermore, L’Arche wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the promotion of a culture of good treatment and protection against all types of abuse, and this concerns everyone who participates in the life of L’Arche.
The Study Commission completed its work with the publication of its report on 30 January 2023. But anyone with relevant information about Jean Vanier, Thomas Philippe or, more broadly, about situations of psychological control and sexual abuse should be able, if they so wish, to access a place of listening that is not part of L’Arche’s operational structures.
The listening service is a “first point of contact”. Its aims are as follows:
- to offer a space where those who come to it can be heard,
- to confidentially receive the testimonies that are sent to it,
- and to offer guidance.