A Worthy OrganizationIn this specific case, L’Arche International contracted a third-party company to investigate the claims of sexual abuse against their founder. I assume this was so that they could do their due diligence to the victims and to keep their own hopes from possibly influencing the results. This has perhaps been one of the first times I’ve seen an organisation seem to choose to do something the right way and take the narrow road. I commend L’Arche International for doing this and wish that more bishops would be willing to do so for their diocese, especially in high profile cases. Due to it being a third-party investigation, we can be assured that the L’Arche organisation has taken the claims seriously enough to not hide, downplay, or deny the reality. They have shown in this that they are willing to risk the hurt and damage to the good works they do because they have recognized the sins their founder has done. They recognize the need to be rid of sin, wherever it has crept in, and to condemn it. If they, who were closest to him are able to do this, we have even less reason to avoid condemning the sin. Image credit: By Daniel Hermes (2008), Flickr.com, CC BY NC-ND 2.0[/caption]
What Do We Say?Yes, Jean Vanier started a movement of dignity and respect for people in a very vulnerable state of life. We can be grateful for this. This should not mean that we say “good works cover a multitude of sins” (and yes, I did read this as someone’s response). How hurtful, to basically say, “Hey, I’m sorry that you were sexually abused in the confines of spiritual direction, but he did a lot of good works!” While we can acknowledge the works that were good that came out of his ministry, it is wrong to belittle the experience of abuse by comparing them. Especially if any of these women ended up lost in faith or disillusioned with the Church because of this. We are also reminded that when we lead others into sin, it is like a millstone is tied around our necks (Luke 17:1-2). It should never be taken lightly or ignored. L’Arche has condemned the actions, lies, and secrecy of their founder. Time will tell if his sins have infiltrated and tainted the good work that L’Arche does, but I take it as a sign of hope that L’Arche has boldly come out with this information so publicly and without secrecy. They have respected the claims of the women who were abused and investigated in an honorable way. We will wait to see how this continues to unfold. Matthew 13:24-30 tells us that the weeds and the wheat will be grown together. We may never know the depths of these sins’ influence in the organization, but we can hope that the wheat will not die out because of the weeds.
What Do We Do?We can pray for the victims, who are still healing from this painful experience. I have not read what L’Arche is providing them, but I hope they are being given the best counsel available to heal from this wound. Sexual abuse, especially when mixed with spirituality and faith (spiritual abuse), can cause great, great harm. It is our duty to also pray for them and their healing. It is our duty not to shy away from recognizing this has happened and that it is horrible. If L’Arche themselves can do it, so can we. We can pray for Jean Vanier’s soul, as he will be accountable for his sins. This has not escaped God’s eye. The women Jean Vanier abused were precious to God and it is not what God wanted for them. None of us can say where Jean Vanier’s soul rests: in praying for him, let us hope that he came to realize his need for God’s great mercy before his death. There is no more that we can say but to offer it all to God and plead that His good might shine through all this.
Copyright 2020 Jane Korvemaker
About the Author
Jane Korvemaker loves food, family, wine, and God (perhaps not in that order). She holds a Certificate in Culinary Arts, which pairs perfectly with her Bachelor in Theology. A former Coordinator of Youth Ministry, she writes from the beautiful and cold province of Saskatchewan, Canada. She works from home and takes care of her three very hard-working children. Jane regularly blogs at AJK2.ca.