Like all Canadians, Cardus was shocked and troubled by revelations of sexual abuse by Jean Vanier, which came to light in February 2020. We take these revelations seriously, hoping for healing for the victims. In spite of Vanier’s brokenness and sin, we hope the truths he spoke, rooted in the Christian Gospel yet able to inspire all people, will endure along with the good work of L’Arche.
The videos included in this piece were produced in partnership with Christian Horizons.
At 88, Jean Vanier is truly the scion in winter. The child of two of Canada's most remarkable figures, Georges and Pauline Vanier, he used the manifold spiritual and intellectual gifts they bequeathed him to develop the global L'Arche community, first in Trosly-Breuil France and then, over the course of 53 years, in 147 centres spanning 37 countries.
By growing L'Arche from one local community to a global movement dedicated to the flourishing of people with developmental difficulties, he is a scion, too in the word's sense of a young shoot or plant set aside to be grafted onto something beyond itself, and in turn to create something new, fresh, vital, transformed.
In late 2016, he welcomed to the L'Arche community in Trosly-Breuil a camera crew, representatives of Cardus, and their partners from Christian Horizons for the purpose of taping a best-wishes message for Canada's imminent 150th birthday. But as those who watch the following video clips will see, his thoughts were, as always, fixed not so much on the calendar as on the eternal effort of human beings to co-exist in peace and flourish in love. Indeed, while he was warmth personified in his wishes for this country's sesquicentennial, he gently cautioned Canadians to mark the special anniversary of Confederation "not just as citizens of the same country, but as brothers and sister in humanity."
Eradicate the Seeds of Hate
Before Jean Vanier was 20, he was taken by his mother, Pauline, to assist the survivors of recently liberated Nazi concentration camps. Not surprisingly, the work left an indelible mark on him as a witness to what human beings can do to each other, but also as one able to testify to how human beings can transcend fear, hatred, violence and meet each other face to face. "Get rid of the little seeds of hate for another person," he urges. "We can only discover what our humanity is when we meet the different."