In 2020, Paris-based L'Arche International set up an independent Study Commission, after publishing the results of an inquiry which revealed abusive and manipulative relationships of L'Arche's founder, Jean Vanier. The Commission of researchers published their own multidisciplinary examination of the evidence in a report dated 30 January 2023. 

The report finds that, between 1950 and 2019, at least 25 women, all of them people without disabilities, experienced sexual contact with Vanier which was part of a continuum of confusion, control, and abuse. Vanier is one of three men accused of initiating abusive and controlling relationships, as part of a “sectarian group” centred in the L'Arche Trosly Community in France, with distorted pseudo-mystical beliefs and a culture of deliberate secrecy. 

The Commission found no evidence of abuse involving people with learning disabilities. It found no evidence that the abusive practices spread in L’Arche beyond the narrow group based in Trosly. The report found no evidence of abuse in L’Arche Communities in the UK.  

In a statement responding to the report, L’Arche International condemns Vanier’s behaviour, asks forgiveness from the victims for L’Arche’s failure as an institution to identify and stop the abuse, announces a mechanism for victims to seek reparations, and sets out wide-ranging steps taken to strengthen safeguarding globally.    

In London, L’Arche UK CEO and National Leader, John Casson, said:  

“Three years after the shock and pain of the revelations about Jean Vanier, this report is a significant step in L’Arche’s commitment to respond with truth, transparency, and justice.   

“The abuses described here did not happen in L’Arche UK Communities, but they are part of our story as members of the worldwide L’Arche family.  We condemn Vanier’s grooming, manipulation, abuse and lies, which betray everything we work for in L’Arche every day.  We welcome and share L’Arche International’s request for forgiveness that the organisation was not able to identify and stop the abuse. We thank the courageous women who broke decades of silence. 

“Facing the truth, however painful, is the only way to ensure L’Arche today is as safe and life-giving as possible for everyone.  Since 2019 L’Arche has invested significantly in new safeguarding and whistleblowing systems, and deepened its transparency and accountability.  The insights in the report will strengthen our ongoing L’Arche UK work to review leadership, culture and spirituality. 

“Our resolve to do this is inspired by the amazing people in our L’Arche Communities, with and without learning disabilities.  They, not Jean Vanier, are the ones who represent the mission and values of L’Arche today.  Every day they call us to be together with honesty, care and accountability, and they renew our commitment to build mature, healthy community with people too often left out.” 

Study Commission in the news


Background information  

  1. L’Arche in the UK is a UK-registered charity and a regulated provider of social care, and part of a worldwide movement of L’Arche Communities where people with and without learning disabilities share life together. Click here for more information about L’Arche.
  1. L’Arche’s founder, Jean Vanier, died in France in May 2019. 
  1. L’Arche is committed to the highest standards of safeguarding and transparency. Information about raising a concern or complaint can be found here.