Thursday, March 12, 2015

L'Arche founder wins Templeton Prize

Those of us who have worked with the mentally retarded (aka developmentally disabled, aka intellectually challenged) know about Jean Vanier, who founded L'Arche, a series of halfway houses where the mentally retarded live with ordinary people.

Today's news says he has won the prestigious Templeton Prize

“People with (mental) disabilities have been among the most oppressed and humiliated. They were called idiots,” Vanier told Reuters at his home before the prize was announced. “But these are beautiful people, people of the heart. It’s great to be together. This is what L’Arche wants to be.”
The Templeton Prize, which in previous years has gone to personalities such as Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama, is one of the world’s richest with an award set always higher than the Nobel Prize.
Vanier, who lives modestly in the village where L’Arche started, said two associations that manage the network’s projects would decide what to do with the prize money.
“It will certainly go to help the poorer communities, maybe the one in Bangladesh,” he said.
A Catholic philosopher, theologian and author of over 30 books, Vanier also founded the Faith and Light network of support groups for families with a mentally disabled member. There are now over 1,500 such groups in 82 countries.
He sees the networks as an antidote to modern society’s stress on status and money, which he says makes people overlook the humanity in those on the sidelines of the rat race.

a true counterculture icon, in a world where sluts are admired and imperfect children are aborted.

I should note, however, that although the kids with Down's syndrome and simple cerebral palsy are easy to live with, those with other problems (fragile X, MR with autism, self abuse, aggresssive outbursts, etc) are not.

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