L’Arche founder wins Templeton Prize

L’Arche founder Jean Vanier has won this year’s Templeton Prize.

The £1.1 million prize honours a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, and always exceeds the Nobel prizes in value, due to founder John Templeton’s belief that spiritual advances are no less important than those in other areas of human life. Previous winners include Mother Teresa of Calcutta, hospice and palliative care movement founder Dame Cicely Saunders, and theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson.

Canadian Mr Vanier founded the first L’Arche community, where people with and without disabilities could live together in community, in the French town of Trosly-Breuil in 1964. Since then the movement has spread: there are now 147 L’Arche communities in 35 countries, along with 1,500 Vanier-inspired Faith and Light groups in 82 countries. Mr Vanier is also the author of more than 30 books, including Becoming Human, Made for Happiness, and Community and Growth.

Following the announcement, Mr Vanier explained that L'Arche and Faith and Light are “like an immense laboratory”, describing them as “places of healing of rifts and of hearts where all become more human”.

“Our society will really become human as we discover that the strong need the weak, just as the weak need the strong. We are all together working for the common good,” he said in a statement.

The announcement was made at a news conference in London, and the prize will be presented on May 18 in London’s church of St Martin-in-the-Fields.