Archbishop Justin Welby invites Jean Vanier to speak at Primates’ gathering
8 Jan 2016
Archbishop Justin Welby has invited the founder of the L’Arche movement, Jean Vanier, to visit Canterbury next week during the gathering of Anglican Primates.
Vanier, 86, is a Roman Catholic philosopher and social innovator who founded the L’Arche Communities - where people with and without learning disabilities share life together, living and working in community - in 1964.
The movement began with Vanier's own commitment to living in community with people who have learning disabilities in Trosly-Breuil, France, where he still lives.
There are now 150 L’Arche communities in at least 35 countries around the world, including a community in Canterbury.
Vanier will address the Primates in the second half of next week.
Last year Vanier, who has authored over 30 books, was honoured with the Templeton Prize in recognition of his advocacy for people with disabilities, and his contributions to a broader exploration of helping the weak and vulnerable.
Welcoming the award, Archbishop Justin said at the time: “Every time one meets Jean, one has a sense of new horizons opening up, of a new vision opening before one’s eyes of what it is to be human and of what it is to be in a community.
“The L’Arche Communities that Jean Vanier founded some 50 years ago, where people with and without learning disabilities share life together, turn society’s assumptions about the strong and the weak upside down. Those the world considers ‘weak’, through their disabilities, are those who bring hope and strength lived out in community. Those who are ‘strong’ discover they need the ‘weak’. This is nothing less than the Kingdom of Heaven come to earth, as Jesus prayed it would.
“I give thanks that the Spirit of God is using Jean Vanier’s life and ministry so powerfully to challenge those inside and outside the church to think about how they relate to those around them.”