Residents of the L’Arche Comox Valley I Belong Centre, along with L’Arche personnel, pose for a picture on the front lawn of their newly opened home. The I Belong Centre, a multi-unit residential complex and community centre, celebrated its grand opening in September of 2017. Photo by Terry Farrell

EDITORIAL: Importance of L’Arche cannot be diminished

The results of an inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse on the part of L’Arche founder Jean Vanier were stunning, to say the least.

The Comox Valley was particularly shaken by the news, considering we are a L’Arche community.

Last week, L’Arche International released a report summary stating that Vanier, who died last year at the age of 90, had relationships with at least six women between 1970 and 1995.

The inquiry, which was commissioned by L’Arche and conducted by an independent group (GCPS Consulting), determined Vanier had engaged in sexual relations with the six adult, non-disabled women who had approached the revered religious leader for spiritual direction.

L’Arche Comox Valley executive director Christine Monier said the report is credible, and now it’s up to her organization to distance itself from the man who created the organization.

“We did look at him as an inspiration and he was able to put words on the core values, the guiding principles [of L’Arche] but his actions are the antithesis … they stand against everything that L’Arche stands for,” she said.

Monier pointed out that the L’Arche mission is greater than the man, and while his actions cannot be disregarded, she is hopeful our community can get past the actions of one person, for the greater good of an important organization. L’Arche Comox Valley “gives the voiceless a voice,” said Monier.

The work done by L’Arche Comox Valley is remarkable. It offers meaningful relationships and social standing to the vulnerable of our community, and fosters an inclusive environment for those with intellectual disabilities.

The actions of Jean Vanier are his, and his alone. They have nothing to do with the monumental achievements of L’Arche Comox Valley or any of the other 31 Canadian L’Arche communities.

We will continue to highlight the great work done by L’Arche Comox Valley. We cannot, and will not, let the actions of one man diminish the achievements of such an important part of our community.

-Terry Farrell

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