The Troubled Inheritance of Jean Vanier: Locating the Fatal Theological Mistakes

Brian Brock* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Jean Vanier’s life and teaching bore good fruit but what is good was wrapped up from the very beginning with manipulative and abusive behaviors justified in theological language. For those of us who do not have access to the voices of the victims themselves, it is important to at least analyze the long-public writings of Fr. Thomas Philippe and Jean Vanier. Until now these were all that was available to those interested in theology of L’Arche, and in them their erotico-mystical theology was hidden in plain sight. A close reading of these texts points to the fatal theological doctrine Vanier inherited from Philippe being a deformed eschatology. More precisely, eschatological concepts were deployed in order to declare traditionally prohibited sexual activities as licit in taking place beyond the mundane domain of everyday morality. A nuptial union taking place outside of and beyond the ethics of normal Christian life brought affectionate union with God down into the time and contingency of everyday ethics in a manner that justified circumventing well known church teachings about sexual ethics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Christian Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date12 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2023


  • Jean Vanier
  • L'Arche
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Over Realized Eschatology
  • Thomas Philippe
  • Community and Growth
  • spiritual guidance


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