A report about a prominent Canadian religious icon who founded an organization that helped improve living conditions for people with developmental disabilities around the world is sending shock waves through the country’s Roman Catholic community.
The Associated Press news agency, which saw the report, wrote Saturday that Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche International, sexually abused at least six women.
The report followed an inquiry commissioned last year by L’Arche and carried out by the independent U.K.-based GCPS Consulting group.
It found that Vanier, who died last year at the age of 90, engaged in “manipulative sexual relationships” from 1970 to 2005.
AP says the report did not rule out potential other victims.
There are 154 L’Arche residential communities in 38 countries on five continents.
Numerous schools in Canada are named after Vanier and at least two Catholic schools in the Greater Toronto say they are “deeply distressed” by the report.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board made social workers available at Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough to provide support to staff and students.
The Halton Catholic District School Board’s education director, Pat Daly, said the board is considering whether or not to change the name of one of its schools.
In a written statement, King’s University College principal David Malloy called the actions described in the report “reprehensible.”
Vanier published numerous books and spent much of his time travelling the world to encourage dialogue across religions.
In 2015 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for spiritual work
He was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1986 and Grand Officer, National Order of Quebec in 1992.
Vanier was the son of Georges Vanier, who served as Canada’s governor general from 1959 to 1967.
With files from CBC, AP, CP,