The Pandora’s Box of Spiritual Abuse is out: Here’s what the Church must do

Christian Today

January 29, 2018

By Rev’d Canon Anna Norman-Walker

This is a blog post by the Revd Canon Anna Norman-Walker, rector of St Leonard’s, Streatham. It first appeared on ViaMedia.News and is reproduced with permission.

In Greek mythology Pandora is created by Zeus and given as a wedding gift to the brother of his enemy Prometheus along with a jar containing the many evils of the world. Pandora opens the jar and on realising what she had done she tries to close it in haste; the anguish of the moment is captured in a painting by FS Church in which the young bride kneels helplessly on the box – as one might an over filled suitcase – in an effort to contain the escaping forces of evil.

Over the past few weeks the call has gone out for the church to address the issue of spiritual abuse. This was triggered in part by a recent report carried out by Bournemouth University on behalf of the churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) in which 62 per cent of respondents to the study’s research survey believed they had been subject to spiritual abuse. Within a few days of the report’s release, news broke of the Oxford priest Revd Timothy Davis’ suspension from duties for the spiritual abuse of a teenager he had been mentoring following an investigation under the Clergy Discipline Measure.

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