The sect was there before our eyes and we saw nothing. Thomas Philippe and Jean Vanier, his main disciple, managed to conceal it for decades at the very heart of the ecclesial system. The two reports published this Monday, January 30 at the initiative of L’Arche and the Dominicans leave no room for doubt.
The Jean Vanier and Philippe brothers affair, a sect at the heart of the Church
The facts are named there, crudely. Their abject nature, their duration, their justification, the eminent personality of the men implicated: everything contributes to give this affair a historical dimension. Jean Vanier, admired during his lifetime, was an active member of this sectarian core. Initiated with others to a delusional pseudo-mysticism, he reproduced the mechanics of sexual control that he suffered in his youth.
After the shock of revelations, we must have the courage to examine lucidly the conditions that led to this fiasco. Reading the reports, we understand that the perversity of Thomas Philippe is not the only cause. Again and again, when it comes to abuse, the main ingredient is silence. The Philippe case was perfectly identified, his madness had been known since 1956, the date of his canonical condemnation. The non-publicity of the Roman sanction enabled him to allow the thesis that he had been the victim of a cabal to prosper.
Complacency, power games and oblivion did the rest: the evil spread until very recently. We know the dismay of the readers of The cross faced with the repetition of these scandals. They sometimes criticize us for doing too much. But publishing this information is not an option, since it helps to avoid the reproduction of abuses. And since we must resolutely hope, we are left with this mystery: from all this monstrosity emerged L’Arche, a remarkable work at the service of the weakest, which continues today.