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Jean Vanier, Catholic hero to developmentally disabled, dies

May 7, 2019 GMT

PARIS (AP) — Jean Vanier, a respected Canadian religious figure whose charity work helped improve conditions for the developmentally disabled in multiple countries over the past half-century, has died at 90.

A charity he founded, L’Arche, said Vanier died Tuesday in Paris after suffering from thyroid cancer.

Pope Francis was informed of Vanier’s death and is praying for him and the community, according to Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti.

Vanier worked as a Canadian navy officer and professor before turning to charity work. A visit to a psychiatric facility prompted him to found L’Arche in 1964 as a community for those with developmental disabilities. The charity now has facilities in 38 countries that are home to thousands of people.