Pope Francis pays tribute to Jean Vanier
Pope Francis and Jean Vanier in the Vatican, March 21, 2014. Photo: Vatican News
Christian philosopher, writer and humanist Jean Vanier, an ardent advocate for the most marginalized by society, died on May 7, 2019 aged 90. Pope Francis paid tribute to him as he travelled back to the Vatican after a three-day apostolic visit to the Balkan nations of Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
“I want to express my gratitude for his testimony” Pope Francis told journalists aboard the papal flight from Skopje to Rome, as he recalled Jean Vanier.
As he prepared for the questions put to him during the usual inflight press conference, the Pope’s priority was to pay his heartfelt tribute to the man whom, he said, was able to read and interpret the Christian gaze on “the mystery of death, of the cross, of suffering” and on “the mystery of those who are discarded by the world”.
Jean Vanier, who gave up a career in the Navy to follow in the footsteps of Christ, was the founder of two international organizations for people with intellectual disabilities: “L’Arche” and “Faith and Light”. He advocated for marginalized people for over five decades, highlighting the profound teachings and the gifts that they offer.
The Pope said he knew of Vanier’s illness and had been kept informed of its progress. “A week ago I called him on the phone, he listened to me, but he could barely speak” he said.
Pope Francis said that Jean Vanier worked “not only for the least but also for those who, even before being born risked being condemned to death.”
“He spent his life in this way” the Pope concluded: “Thank you to him and thank you God for having given us a man of such great witness”.
Linda Bordoni, Vatican News, www.vaticannews.va May 7, 2019
Mission Intention for July
That those who administer justice may work with integrity, and that the injustice which prevails in the world may not have the last word.
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