Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche Communities, Sexually Abused Women

Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche International 
for developmentally disabled persons
Photo courtesy:

Jean Vanier, born in Switzerland and domiciled in both France and Canada, was a philosopher, theologian, and social activist. He was the founder of the world-renowned charity, L'Arche International, that helped thousands of developmentally disabled persons in 38 countries on five continents. In spite of his monumental achievements, he was as weak as any other human being. An internal investigative report of the same organization in France has found that he has sexually abused at least six women, who were not handicapped. 

The report, publicly released on February 22, speaks of Jean Vanier's "manipulative sexual relationship" over the victims in the period from 1970 to 2005. He is said to have used his power over them "to take advantage of them." Jean Vanier died on May 7 of 2019 at the age of 90. 

"The alleged victims felt deprived of their free will and so the sexual activity was coerced or took place under coercive conditions," the report said. 

It is notable that Father Thomas Phillippe of France was the co-founder of the L'Arche. He died in 1993. There are allegations of similar sexual misconduct against Father Philippe, too. 

Jean Vanier's work with disabled persons won international attention and appreciation. Last year, Pope Francis also praised his work

Dozens of schools and other institutions have been named after him and some of them are actively thinking to change their names.

Jean Vanier had received a number of accolades, awards, and honours worldwide, such as the Order of Canada -- 1972, the Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec (Canada) -- 1992, Legion of Honour (France), Rabbi Gunther Plaut Humanitarian Award -- 2001, the Community of Christ International Peace Award -- 2003, the Globe and Mail's Nation Builder Award -- 2008, the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award (from the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa) -- 2013, the Templeton Prize (Great Britain) -- 2015, Canada's Mennonite University's PAX award -- 2015, the Peace Abbey Foundation (USA) International Courage of Conscience Award -- 2016, the Gaudium et Spes Prize, L'Ordre des Chevaliers de Colomb -- 2005, the Notre Dame Award (University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA), Paul VI International Prize, Loyola Medal (of the Concordia University, Canada), Writers' Trust of Canada's Gordon Montador Award (for his book Becoming Human), and official naming of the 'Asteroid 8604' to 'Vanier' -- 2010.   Some authorities of these awards and honours are thinking to revoke them. The University of Notre Dame already revoked its award on Feb. 26. 

It is also notable that Jean Vanier had written 30 books on philosophy, theology, and intellectual disability, including Tears of Silence (1970), Followers of Jesus (1976), I Walk With Jesus (1985), The Broken Body (1988), and Becoming Human (1998). 

Two documentary films were also made on his life and work.

For more details, please read the following:

(Updated on March 2, 2020)

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Quotation of the Week (February 23 - 29, 2020)

A quotation of Nancy Patricia Pelosi on 'cruelty is not wit,'
compiled by Jerome D'Costa

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Friday, February 21, 2020

Ontario Teachers' Strike Paralyses Publicly-Funded Schools, Over 2 Million Students Remain Out Of Class

The Ontario province-wide strike of elementary and secondary school teachers and their supporters completely shut down the schools having over two million students, reports the Global News.

About 30,000 teacher members, belonging to four teachers' unions -- the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA), and Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) -- participated in the walkout and demonstrated on the compounds of the Queen's Park, the provincial parliament in Toronto. 

The bones of contention were disagreement on the class sizes, full-day kindergarten, e-learning, teachers' compensation, special education, and teacher hiring. 

For further details, please read the following:

All photos above (in Queen's Park, 
Toronto: Feb. 21, 2020) © Jerome D'Costa

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

'Tiger Widows' of Bangladesh and India Are Shunned and Discriminated

'Tiger widows' -- wives named so after their husbands had
been killed by tigers in the Sunderbans forest in Bangladesh
Photo courtesy:

The Sunderbans mangrove forest, declared as a UN heritage site, encompasses a vast area of the South-western part of Bangladesh and the south-eastern part of India. This forest has tigers of several species, including the world-famous 'Royal Bengal Tiger,' deer, crocodiles, and other animals. Its waterways teem with different species of fishes. It is also famous for its valuable timber and honey. 

There are people who go to the forest to procure timber, honey, and fish. From time to time some of these people are attacked by tigers and killed. 

Their wives are blamed for their 'bad luck' and they are then shunned and discriminated against. 

The governments of Bangladesh and India and non-government organizations (NGOs) need to take action to properly educate the local people for dispelling their superstition and stigma against these widows. 

For more on the subject, please read the following:

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Quotation of the Week (February 16 - 22, 2020)

A quotation of Claude Monet on 'being a painter of flowers,'
compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Artworks by Mary D'Costa

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Quotation of the Week (February 9 - 15, 2020)

A quotation of Al Lopez on 'doing what
one loves best to do,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Artworks © Joachim Romeo D'Costa

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Quotation of the Week (February 2 - 8, 2020)

A quotation of James Carroll on 'clericalism,'
compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Design © Jerome D'Costa

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