Fifty years ago, Jean Vanier founded L’Arche, a new kind of Christian community which would welcome people with severe intellectual difficulties in a shared life of freedom and mutual respect. A year later, the Second Vatican Council released its vision of a Church which would put society’s weakest and most marginalised members at its heart.
Since then, L’Arche has become a world-renowned symbol of compassion and hope, its members drawn from different faiths and none. But what has become of the radical promise of Vatican II, in a world that continues to value success and power at the expense of the poor and powerless?
Drawing on half a lifetime of experience in L’Arche, Jean Vanier identifies seven paths towards societies which are more truly inclusive of all their members, whatever their weaknesses and strengths.
From humiliation to humility
From conformity to conscience
From exclusion to encounter
From power to authority
From isolation to community
From strength to vulnerability
From secret to mystery
Jean Vanier addresses himself particularly to the contemporary crisis in the Catholic Church. But these paths of hope are relevant to any society, from families to faith communities and wider social organisations.
Signs of the Times is inspiring/essential reading for anyone concerned with spiritual values and social justice in today’s troubled world.
Jean Vanier is a Canadian Catholic philosopher, humanitarian and the founder of L’Arche, an international organization that creates communities where people with intellectual disabilities and those who assist them share life together. He continues to live in the first L’Arche community in Trosly-Breuil, France
Ann Shearer is a Jungian analyst in London. She worked with L’Arche International for many years and contributed a chapter to The Challenge of L’Arche, as well as translating Jean Vanier’s Community and Growth.