No, Jean Vanier is not ‘like all of us’

National Catholic Reporter

February 25, 2020

By Jamie Manson

Since the news broke Saturday morning that Jean Vanier had coercive, nonconsensual and abusive sexual encounters with at least six adult women, my social media feeds have been filled with folks trying to make sense of these revelations.

I admit that Vanier was not someone I looked to for spiritual inspiration. Though he was not a priest, my years of experiencing the clericalism of both the clergy and the laity had made me weary and wary of the Catholic tendency towards hero worship, particularly of grand older men.

The fact that I did not have an emotional tie to Vanier may have helped me take an unflinching look at L’Arche’s 10 page report on the abuses that he and his mentor, Dominican Fr. Thomas Philippe, perpetrated against vulnerable women.

L’Arche should be commended for its support of Vanier’s victims and for its fearless transparency about its founder’s misconduct. Tina Bovermann, national leader/executive director of L’Arche USA, has modeled for all church leaders how to deal with abuse with integrity and compassion.

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