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London Catholic board, King’s University College to disassociate from Jean Vanier

An internal report revealed Saturday Feb. 22, 2020, that L’Arche founder Jean Vanier, a respected Canadian religious figure, sexually abused at least six women.
An internal report revealed Saturday Feb. 22, 2020, that L’Arche founder Jean Vanier, a respected Canadian religious figure, sexually abused at least six women. Lefteris Pitarakis / The Canadian Press

The London District Catholic School Board and King’s University College at Western University are moving to rename a school and a centre that currently bear the name of a once highly respected Catholic figure who was posthumously found to have sexually abused at least six women.

Jean Vanier died last year at age 90 and a report from the French-based charity he founded, L’Arche International, was released in February 2020. According to that report, the women’s descriptions provide evidence enough to show that Jean Vanier engaged in “manipulative sexual relationships” over a period from 1970 to 2005, usually with a “psychological hold” over the alleged victims.

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

Just over five months later, both the LDCSB and King’s University College confirm they are moving to rename Jean Vanier Catholic Elementary School and the virtual Jean Vanier Research Centre, respectively.

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The Catholic board posted a statement on its website explaining that it is moving ahead with a name change.

“We want this to be a faith-filled discernment process rather than simply a selection of the most popular name,” the statement reads.

“We are involving both the school and local Catholic community and also wish to honour the outstanding partnership the school has with L’Arche.”

The statement says the process includes: a reflection aspect, name submissions, and then name selection “followed by a new logo and motto, and ending with a blessing of the ‘new’ school.”

The LDCSB says it hopes to complete the process by early 2021. No details were provided about how members of the community can get involved or about the financial cost of the endeavour.

Read more: Regina Catholic School Division renames Jean Vanier School

King’s University College, meanwhile, says the centre’s board met in February and March and decided to start a process toward a name change and strike a sub-committee to work on a proposal for how to proceed. However, the process has been halted due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Due to the pandemic, the sub-committee Board members have not been able to convene and finalize this work,” the centre’s director, professor Pamela Cushing, told Global News.

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“No specific recommendations have been brought to the Centre’s board yet. The sub-committee plans to submit its proposals to the Centre’s Board this fall for formal consideration and vote.”

Cushing says any changes would then require final approval from the university’s various governance councils.

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— with files from The Associated Press’ Sylvie Corbet.

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