The news of Vanier's abuse "is all the more difficult and incomprehensible given that Mr. Vanier had a profound influence on the way people with mental and physical disabilities are perceived and treated today, and his writings have had a positive influence on people's lives within many different cultures and languages," the bishops reflected. "Nonetheless, any harm that was done cannot be excused."
"Victims of abuse suffer unspeakable harm and long-term consequences. The message of the Bishops of Canada to all victims-survivors is that abuse is an appalling manipulation of trust and is always to be condemned. In any form, it is unacceptable," the bishops said.
"The Bishops commend the courage of and pray for all victims-survivors who come forward with such painful experiences in order to seek justice and healing. Similarly, they laud the bold steps of L'Arche's leadership in initiating an independent inquiry into this question in an effort to seek greater clarity."
While Vanier's abuse has sowed seeds of distrust, the bishops said, it is important to pray for the victims, those involved with the communities, and for the organization moving forward.
The bishops said it will take time for healing to take place but stressed the value of this organization that is "devoted to helping the intellectually disabled and their families based on the principles of love, friendship, community, and the dignity of the person."
"The Bishops of Canada pray for the success of the important task that now lies before the leadership of L'Arche to rebuild trust through their rigourous safeguarding policies and practices in order that the organization's mission to the disabled may continue in Canada and abroad," the bishops said.