London, Ont. research centre, Catholic school react to sexual abuse revelations involving namesake Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier died Tuesday, May 7, 2019 after suffering from thyroid cancer.
Jean Vanier died Tuesday, May 7, 2019 after suffering from thyroid cancer. AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File

The principal of King’s University College at Western University expects that action will be taken, but is not yet committing to a name change for the Jean Vanier Research Centre at King’s.

A report released by the French-based charity L’Arche International on Saturday concluded that its founder sexually abused at least six women between 1970 and 2005.

Vanier died last year at age 90.

READ MORE: ‘Deep wounds’: Respected Canadian Catholic figure sexually abused women, report finds

Principal Dr. David Malloy told Global News on Monday that it’s reasonable to ask about a name change, but said it’s “premature” to comment on what impact the report will have on the research centre.

“I’m sure action will be taken,” Malloy said, “but it’s got to go through our processes and the first process is having conversations with our board of directors.”

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Malloy also expressed shock and disappointment at the report’s findings.

“Those of us that were aware of his work, like everyone else, considered Jean Vanier certainly a wonderful Canadian,” he explained.

“There were some that perceived him almost like a living saint but these new revelations certainly damage that, as it should.”

Still, Malloy said this does not change the purpose of the Jean Vanier Research Centre, nor the work of L’Arche.

READ MORE: Milton school named after L’Arche International founder considers name change

Jean Vanier is also the namesake of a Catholic grade school within the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB), at 1019 Viscount Rd. in the Westmount neighbourhood in London.

When asked if the board was considering a possible name change for Jean Vanier Catholic School — like the Halton Catholic District School Board and its Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School — spokesperson Mark Adkinson would only say that “[i]t’s going to take some time for us to reflect and assess the impact” of the report.

“As to how we proceed,” an emailed statement continued, “we will work closely with the school community to determine next steps.

“We are blessed here in London to have a vibrant L’Arche community and will continue our outreach programs with L’Arche London.”

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Adkinson also noted that a letter would be sent home with students on Monday. A statement on the LDCSB website added that their “prayers are with the women who were victims of this abuse.”

Jean Vanier, advocate for disabled, dies at 90
Jean Vanier, advocate for disabled, dies at 90

— with files from The Associated Press.