Catholic charity founder Jean Vanier sexually abused women: Report

The revered spiritual leader was a sexual predator, according to a report submitted by L'Arche of France

The respected founder of the France-based charity L'Arche charity, Jean Vanier, sexually abused at least six women, according to a report.

The report produced for L'Arche International said Vanier engaged in manipulative sexual relations between 1970-2005. Most of the time the man is said to have maintained a psychological hold over them. The women gave enough evidence to back their claim that the man had abused them.

The Catholic figure is said to have worked with people to improve their condition with developmental disabilities. Several people looked up to Vanier who was a Canadian. He died last year at the age of 90.

Jean Vanier
Jean Vanier Wikimedia Commons

A layman revered as a priest

The report said the women felt deprived of their free will and the "sexual activity was coerced or took place under coercive conditions". The report was commissioned last year and the UK-based GCPS Consulting group prepared it. It did not rule out the possibility of further victims.

During the inquiry for the report, six women who had no connection to each other, said Vanier had sexual relations with them when they were seeking spiritual guidance. In the Catholic hierarchy, any sexual relationship between religious leaders and adults is deemed consensual unless the person has a disability.

According to the report, the spiritual leader adopted some of "Father Thomas Philippe's deviant theories and practices". The charity leaders Stephan Posner and Stacy Cates-Carney in a letter to the members expressed their shock at the report and condemned the leader's actions.

The situation with Vanier opens up another hole in the Catholic Church's handling of sexual abuse charges and allegations. There has been a long list of victims and they are emerging because of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements that have been taking shape in the past few years.

This article was first published on February 23, 2020