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.
We pay tribute to all the women who gave their testimonies in this process and our thoughts remain very much with them. We repeat our unreserved condemnation of these actions which are in total contradiction with the elementary rules of respect and integrity of persons, and contrary to the fundamental principles of our communities. The leaders of L’Arche International express their deepest appreciation to the members both of the Study Commission and of the Scientific Committee.
Twenty-five women of legal age, single, married or consecrated, and without disabilities, were identified as having experienced, at some point in their relationship with Jean Vanier, a situation involving a sexual act or an intimate gesture between 1952 and 2019. Some presented themselves as victims of an abusive relationship, others as consenting partners in a transgressive relationship. Some of these women are now deceased. In their diversity, these relationships, sometimes concurrent, are all part of a continuum of confusion, control, and abuse.
This in no way reflects the ethos or operations, current or historical of L’Arche in Ireland & Northern Ireland. The Study Commission has found no new information of relevance to L’Arche in Ireland. While Jean Vanier made a number of short visits to Ireland in the 80s and 90s, it is important to note that while Jean Vanier did found L’Arche in France, he was never actively involved in L’Arche Ireland.
L’Arche has undertaken a thorough review of well-established and recognised safeguarding policies and procedures across Ireland and Northern Ireland. In Ireland, our safeguarding systems and practices are well established in line with the HSE guidelines, the Health Act of 2007 and HIQA guidelines. We are subject to annual internal audit and regular HIQA inspections both planned and unannounced. We are proud to hold ourselves to the highest national and international standards. We also part partake in the L’Arche International work on safeguarding and have completed the audit in 2021 and will complete another one this year.
Our utmost priority continues to be the safety and welfare of all our community members, and we will support them through this news. Our ongoing resolve to is inspired by the amazing people in our L’Arche Communities, with and without an Intellectual disability. They, not Jean Vanier, are the ones who represent the mission and values of L’Arche today. Every day they call us to be together with honesty, care and accountability, and they renew our commitment to build mature, healthy community with people too often left out.
If you have been affected by any of the news or require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the International Safeguarding Office firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview with the L’Arche International leader