A False Compassion

I’ve always had a profound respect for Jean Vanier and his tireless work with the disabled.  It is with some sadness and disappointment, however, that I recently read his justification in not returning his Order of Canada.  You can read his remarks here.

I simply cannot understand his position. We are not asking him not to be compassionate to women, but simply to acknowledge that the “award” he still clings to declares that murdering unborn life is not only acceptable but is to be lauded and applauded.

There is no justification for Jean Vanier’s muddled thinking on this matter, and sadly there is plenty of muddled thinking and logical incoherence in his remarks. 

I find it quite unconscionable that anyone who values the dignity of the unborn child will still cling to a medal that represents a brazen attack on that same dignity.  Yet, that is what he has done, despite the clear witness of his fellow Catholics on this matter.

The general thrust of Jean Vanier’s letter seems to be that he wants to foster peace, understanding, and unity. In itself, that is very good and noble.  Indeed, helping women who are in a crisis pregnancy is not only the right thing to do, it is a commandment of Love. However, none of this means anything unless a clear and unequivocal position is taken on the inviolability of human life.  Any search for peace, understanding and good will is a false one if it does not recognize, and more importantly, act on this reality.

It’s great to declare oneself to be “pro-life”, but like the Catholic politician who refuses to conform his actions to such a belief, any Catholic who knowingly belongs to a “club” which extols the murder of unborn children is really no better.

Jean Vanier has done the pro-life movement and especially his work with the disabled who are the first ones to be discarded in this abortion holocaust a huge disservice.

Catholics must indeed have compassion but it cannot be a false compassion, resting on a false sense of “unity” or “understanding”.

7 thoughts on “A False Compassion

  1. In the Bible it clearly says we cannot serve two masters.
    Matthew 6:24 says: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
    As christians we cannot serve both the world and God. There is no grey area, everything is either from the world or from God. Jean Vanier is confused and he will be confusing others, especially the unbeleivers.

  2. perhaps he has been confused by the fact that the congenitally disabled young people who come to l’Arche are precisely those from parents who were not willing to kill them. He doesn’t realize that the thousands of children with Down Syndrome (e.g.) who do NOT show up at his doors are being killed precisely because they have Down Syndrome. Perhaps not Dr Morgentaler (only perhaps, I don’t know), but certainly the movement he engendered, has as a main goal the elimination of the people Jean Vanier has dedicated his life to.

  3. this is why it is called false compassion, Jean Vanier feels sorry for the people who are murdering people that he himself was honoured for dedicated his life to. Jean Vanier is confused, he is positioning himself on both side. Matthew 6:24 gives us a warning about this.

  4. I am an Australian and I have only just picked up this issue. I’ve lived for the last 10 years in a L’Arche community here in Australia. Jean’s life is a GLOBAL witness to the sacredness of each life. He cannot be accused of a disconnect between values and actions. Through L’Arche, thousands of lives have been saved. Our communities often journey with women who have just found out they are carrying a child with a disability. Our life together gives hope to these women and they choose not to abort. This is a more powerful and important witness than returning a medal. It is easy to judge from a distance. Look at the fruit of Jean’s life.

  5. Cameron, it is not his actions in living out his Catholic witness in regards to the disabled that are in question.

    It is the incoherence of his position on the Order of Canada that is at issue. It is not moral to belong to an organization who not only tolerates but extols the supposed benefits of abortion. And yet Jean Vanier is doing just that by his position on this point, and providing scandal to the faithful, whatever his intentions may be.

    I do not doubt his sincerity or his good will in taking the position he does, but that does not, in itself, make it right or moral. Indeed, by agreeing to share the same medal with Morgentaler, he is undermining his own great work by associating himself with a man who belongs to a profession which is exterminating a whole subclass of the unborn: the disabled!

    Nor, should I point out, does Jean Vanier’s work, however noble and great, give him a free ride in being excused from taking such a position. All his good work does not excuse him from inviting scandal.

    If he won’t listen to me, let him look to his fellow Catholics who returned their medals. They seemed to understand the issue. He needs to do so as well.

    He is causing scandal and he is undermining his own legacy by his poor witness on this issue, and one may be inclined to believe that there is a much more serious foundational problem to how he has behaved.

  6. Cameron, my disenchantment is with what Jean Vanier wrote about not giving back his medal. It was not the fact that he did not give back his medal, but his explanation for that, that saddened me.

    I have a great deal of respect for l’Arche, but I have a question for you now based on what I read in Mr Vanier’s letter. You mention l’Arche communties journeying with women who discover they are carrying disabled fetuses, and who choose not to abort. That is commendable, and certainly one of the fruits of Mr Vanier. What would one of those communities do, if one of those wome who discovered she was pregnant with a fetus with a disability, decided to have an abortion? Would it journey with her? Would you? Seriously, please answer the question. After reading Mr Vanier’s letter, I’m not sure. and that’s the scandal of it.

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