Early March we, Vivir Juntos, first received news from L’Arche International, (the International Foundation of Ark communities), about an investigation into the conduct of Jean Vanier. Jean Vanier together with Thomas Phillipe are the founders of L’Arche International. It was an investigation into the alleged sexual misconduct of women by Vanier and Philippe.
The outcome of the investigation was damning. The report stated that Vanier, like his mentor Philippe, had sexually abused several women trusted to his pastoral care. We were tremendously shocked by this news, and can well imagine that it also raises questions for you.
Our work for the home community for intellectually disabled adults in Juigalpa is based on the principles of L’Arche International. The report of the investigation made clear that no women, intellectually disabled or not, were abused who live in one of the Ark communities world-wide. The principles of “The Ark” are not under scrutiny. But it is distressing that both founders did not follow these principles in their own lives and have damaged several people by their conduct.
From the very start Vivir Juntos and Ruach have paid ample attention to the prevention of sexual abuse in its home community in Juigalpa. A protocol, unique to Nicaragua, was drafted which is explained to all new personnel, and signed afterwards. The protocol focuses on the vulnerability of the residents and describes how staff needs to act. It is also a recurrent theme in team evaluations.
Following the conclusions of the investigation, we will no longer mention the names of both founders in our texts about L’Arche International, starting with our 2019 Annual Report.
You will find the complete letter from L’Arche International here (in Dutch): Brief l’Arche International.
If after the reading of this message and the letter you still have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We stay committed to the home community, together with Astrid and the Ruach Foundation. We hope you will continue supporting us. Together we can make a real difference.
Niko Tetteroo, Secretary and Jeroen Boggia, Chair-person/Treasurer of Vivir Juntos