Making Out Jean Vanier


  • Carolyn Whitney-Brown St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo; Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria



Jean Vanier, Kathryn Bond Stockton, L’Arche, de-metaphoring, community, patriarchy


In early 2020, news broke of Jean Vanier’s manipulative sexual practices. Just months earlier, I had published two books about how people in Canada and around the world took up the vision of Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, an international network of communities of people with and without intellectual disabilities. Throughout this past year, I could not stop thinking about the whole situation, trying to make out Jean Vanier even while I want to de-center him. I find unexpected inspiration in queer theorist Kathryn Bond Stockton’s evocative book, Making Out. This reflection ends with no conclusions, only an invitation to think together about Jean Vanier and seemingly benign patriarchy.


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-- -- “Rapport de synthèse, 22 Feb 2020.”

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--- --- “The World’s First International Lip Syncing Competition Hosted by People With Disabilities.”

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-- -- and Carolyn Whitney-Brown, Jean Vanier: Essential Writings. Maryknoll, NY:Orbis 2008, Montreal: Novalis 2008, London: Darton Longman and Todd, 2008 and 2019.

Whitney-Brown, Carolyn. “Too Chicken to Cross the Road? Jean Vanier and Getting to the Other Side,” Critical Theology 1:4 (Summer 2019).

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How to Cite

Whitney-Brown, C. (2021). Making Out Jean Vanier. Religious Studies and Theology, 40(1), 122–130.



Reflections from the Field