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To Understand and to Heal

Dear Oblates and future Oblates,


This message is to inform you about the most recent development in our process of moving forward after the revelations of abuse in our Congregation with the other elements that enabled this to go on unknown for so long.


On June 26th, the Congregation of St. John issued its report on the sexual and spiritual abuses in the Congregation committed by its founder, Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe and various Brothers, entitled “To Understand and to Heal”. This 826-page report is the result of a study mandated at the 2019 General Chapter and carried out by the Interdisciplinary Commission who united in their shared research (and in equal numbers) both, on the one hand, outside experts (lay persons as well as religious) who brought specific skills and professional perspectives, and, on the other hand, members of the Family of Saint John (Brothers as well as Sisters).


Their efforts to understand the nature, source, and scope of the abuse resulted in the making of this report (in French). There is equally a 30-page summary report which will soon be appearing, also published in French, which will summarize the complete 826-page report. The Congregation of the Brothers plan to send out an English translation of the 30-page summary report, though this translation is currently still in process to be completed. When it will become available, we will provide a link to the document (or a copy of the document itself) to all of you. After you yourselves (and ourselves as well) have had a chance to read the report or summary report, it might be appropriate, for those who wish to do so, that we meet as a group, so as to discuss it, share our impressions and concerns, and perhaps talk further about what moving forward together might look like in the light of what we have come to know.


This report comes after the publishing of two other studies earlier this year which also spoke of the abusive actions of Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe and his brother, Fr. Thomas Philippe. One was commissioned by L’Arche International, as the abuses within its organization involved its founder, Jean Vanier. This study is entitled “Ascendancy and Abuse, Investigation into Thomas Philippe, Jean Vanier and L’Arche” (Chateauneuf-sur-Charente, Frémur, 2023). Whilst this report focuses on Fr. Thomas Philippe, it also presents the broader historical framework which concerns Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe. The second study became a 700-page book (written in French) by Tangi Cavalin. This book has the title “The Affair: The Dominicans facing the scandal of the Philippe brothers” (Paris, Cerf, 2023) and it gives further details about the reprehensible actions of our founder and his brother, Fr. Thomas Philippe (whilst also putting into perspective the Dominican culture of that time and the behavior of Fr. Thomas Dehau, the influential uncle of Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe).


By way of a helpful introduction, a short video with English subtitles given by Fr. François Xavier, Prior General of the Brothers, may be found here: https://brothers-saint-john.org/2023/06/26/release-of-the-report-to-understand-and-to-heal/

One can also find a KTO TV interview with English subtitles – KTO TV being a French speaking Catholic TV channel – that was given by two of our Brothers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDBr-VvOs60


Though these documents are sad and painful for us to read, this information can be part of a necessary grieving process and being able to heal and move forward, as well as a preventative measure against falling into the same thing. It can thus be valuable for us to have access to these informative documents in looking at the historical reality of our Family of St. John and useful for building a holy and healthy community culture. That being said, it is also true that not everyone finds it helpful or necessary to know all these details. Profound respect for each one's personal choice is important. Do feel free to reach out and ask to speak personally with a Brother or Sister if you might find that helpful.


Together in prayer as we follow Christ Jesus our Lord, who came that we “may have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10), in the footsteps of the Beloved Disciple,

Sr. Michelle Marie srmichellemarie@gmail.com


By way of a helpful introduction, a short video with English subtitles given by Fr. François Xavier, Prior General of the Brothers, may be found here: https://brothers-saint-john.org/2023/06/26/release-of-the-report-to-understand-and-to-heal/



One can also find a KTO TV interview with English subtitles – KTO TV being a French speaking Catholic TV channel – that was given by two of our Brothers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDBr-VvOs60


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