To Heal and Not to Hurt
Authors Rosie Harper & Alan Wilson
Publisher DLT £12.99
Subtitled, ‘A fresh approach to safeguarding in Church’, this is a timely analysis which the Bishop of Buckingham and his chaplain intend as ‘an attempt to understand why good church people end up doing bad things.’ They recognise that all abuse emanates from controlling behaviour and the misuse of power. 15 short stories – fictional, but drawing on real situations – show that the Church’s response (or lack of it) may be as hurtful as the original events. ‘Abused in the place they loved by the people they trusted’ means the Church has responsibilities that should not be evaded. Other chapters refer to various aspects of the stories to draw out more general principles, with a strong case made for a mandatory reporting regime so that the abused do not have to face the agony of whether to report or not, coupled with independent inquiry procedures that are truly independent. While recognising that progress has been made in recent years, the authors identify four areas in need of radical reform: Accompaniment; Restoration and Redress; Whistle blowing and Clergy Discipline. This stimulating book shines useful lights in dark places and will enable readers to be alert to situations that could be, or could become, abusive.