Control and Abuse
Investigation on Thomas Philippe and Jean Vanier
Working since the autumn of 2020, the Study Commission set up by L’Arche International has endeavoured to shed light on the mechanisms of the psychological hold and sexual abuse of which Thomas Philippe and Jean Vanier have been accused. Composed of six researchers from different disciplines (history, sociology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, theology) and working independently, the Study Commission has been free to choose its methodology of research, its sources, make its own interpretations and draw its own conclusions. During their monthly meetings over the last two years, the members of the Commission were able to share the progress of their research in their respective disciplines, mutually benefitting from this interdisciplinary exchange.
The Commission obtained the support of all the archival institutions they approached. This provided a rich base of documents for the investigation to go forward.
The Commission’s study is also based on a vast corpus of interviews: 119 interviews with nearly 90 interlocutors, equivalent to more than 200 hours of listening. These include people who could be considered victims of abusive relationships on the part of Jean Vanier, Thomas Philippe or other initiates of the “mystical-sexual” beliefs and practices of the sectarian nucleus whose history the report describes; they also include witnesses to the history of L’Arche, particularly in the community to which Jean Vanier and Thomas Philippe belonged in Trosly-Breuil; and people close to Jean Vanier; or members of L’Arche who have held positions of responsibility. Jean Vanier’s books, which have been in wide circulation, have also been the subject of a careful critical reading.
Listening to better understand, re-reading to analyse: these were the aims of the authors of this report. The Commission wishes to make public, under its own responsibility, the results of its investigation in order to fully reveal the mechanisms of sexual abuse and control.