Regarding Father Thomas Philippe

Regarding Father Thomas Philippe

The Dominican scholar Fr. Thomas Philippe, who served as Jean Vanier’s spiritual mentor, died in 1993. In 2014, L’Arche learned of allegations that Fr. Thomas Philippe had committed acts of serious sexual abuse against multiple women. At the request of L’Arche leadership, a canonical inquiry was immediately launched, led by the official reference Bishop for L’Arche International.

L’Arche condemns these acts of abuse and stands alongside the victims. We are truly and deeply sorry for how these women have suffered.

In 2019, L’Arche International commissioned a thorough, independent inquiry designed to allow us to better understand our history and failures and continue to refine our safeguarding efforts. Protecting the dignity of every human being is a central part of L’Arche’s mission and fighting abuse must be at the heart of our concerns.  We continue to take steps to improve current policies and practices for preventing and handling abuse.

Stephan Posner and Stacy Cates-Carney, L’Arche’s International Leader and Vice International Leader, shared the letter below with L’Arche’s international community at the launch of the 2019 inquiry.


Timeline of L’Arche Actions Regarding Father Thomas’ Misconduct

Since receiving the first testimonies on Father Thomas’ misconduct, L’Arche has taken a number of responsive actions. We have provided a timeline of these actions below. We continue to reflect on our own response and on how we can improve our practices.

June 2014: L’ Arche leadership and the Catholic Church receive testimonies from two women denouncing serious sexual misconduct committed by Father Thomas. In response, L’Arche requests a canonical inquiry, which lasts from December 2014 to March 2015.

March 2015: L’Arche receives the conclusions of the canonical enquiry, which are summarized in a letter shared with the full organization and linked below. In two letters, available below, in May and October 2015, Jean Vanier shared his reaction to these revelations.

December 2015: L’Arche launches a review seeking to clarify information regarding Father Thomas and Jean Vanier’s respective roles in its founding. A report was published in June 2017, and is available below.

October 2016: A listening session is held in Oise, France to offer support to potential victims of Father Thomas and anyone associated with L’Arche, managed by psychologists outside of the organization.

April 2017: A mass honoring the victims of Father Thomas is held in Trosly, France, organized at the request and with the involvement of some of the victims. This mass was announced by the International Leaders to all L'Arche communities around the world. The homily delivered at the mass is available below.

June 2017: The founding community of Trosly, France, more strongly impacted by these past events, launches a year-long review with the help of a psychologist.

June 2019: L’Arche International commissions an external organization to conduct a thorough and independent inquiry in order to better understand its history, refine its work to prevent abuse and to improve its policies and procedures.