Vanier’s Long Shadow

The plot thickens around affaire de Jean Vanier. I did not know he admitted to the sexual liasons in 2016, that the women had made their testimony, but that Vanier claimed that the relationships were consensual; as we all know by now, however, that word is fraught and fragile, which is why we have – or, more properly, were given – the institution of marriage, to protect and ensure and stabilize the otherwise unstable and uncertain nature of ‘consent’.

Corruptio optimi pessima, wrote the poet Juvenal, the corruption of the best is the worst. And sex is one of the ‘best’ things, uniting man and wife, and the means by which children and future generations are pro-created. Sex, in turn, is tied in with religion, which is why we bind ourselves – re-ligere – by the virtue of religion in marriage for life to another person.

When sex and religion are corrupted, as seems to be the case here, corrupted together – religion and spirituality used as a means and excuse of gaining illicit sex – we can only wonder, why, oh, why. The scandal of this will ripple for some time. The mystery of iniquity is mysterious indeed.

I wrote on Jean Vanier back in 2016 concerning his bizarre response – at least, bizarre, given his hagiographic halo back then, but does not seem so bizarre now – to Carol Off on the CBC when asked about euthanasia. In sum, he more or less replied that is should be permitted in cases where the pain is ‘unbearable’. Alas, I also did not know of his wobbly position also on abortion, and his telling decision not to return his Order of Canada – following the noble example of Madonna House – besmirched as the award was after being given to Henry Morgentaler for, ahem, services rendered.

Although we will want to focus on what good there be, and pray for all those involved, I will leave you for now with these words from the Catechism to ponder:

Pure of heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and will to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity, chastity or sexual rectitude; love of truth and orthodoxy of faith. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith”. (#2518)