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The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession

by John Cornwell

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352567,665 (3.25)3
Confession is a crucial ritual of the Catholic Church, offering absolution of sin and spiritual guidance to the faithful. Yet this ancient sacrament has also been a source of controversy and oppression, culminating, as prize-winning historian John Cornwell reveals in The Dark Box, with the scandal of clerical child abuse. Drawing on extensive historical sources, contemporary reports, and first-hand accounts, Cornwell takes a hard look at the long evolution of confession.… (more)
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A very clear history of how the sacrament of Confession evolved over the centuries. When it moved into a private one-on-one setting it opened the door to all sorts of perverse exploitation of the penitents. The problem was magnified in the early 20th century when Pope Pius X lowered the confession age from the early teens to age 7 or even younger. Both boys and girls were sexually vulnerable to priest predators.
It also covers seminary training under the edicts of Pius, training which made for an alienated priest culture with a medieval mindset for much of the 20th century. A distinct feature of such alienation was the ability of priests to compartmentalize their abuse of children, and of course, confess their sins to other priests or members of the church hierarchy who were complicit in such depravity by their silence; or as he witnessed in recent decades, even mounting legal and media assaults on the victim.
A truly sordid narrative of an institution that unleashed immoral agents in the attempt to impose restrictive and unrealistic moral guidelines. ( )
  VGAHarris | Jan 19, 2015 |
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Confession is a crucial ritual of the Catholic Church, offering absolution of sin and spiritual guidance to the faithful. Yet this ancient sacrament has also been a source of controversy and oppression, culminating, as prize-winning historian John Cornwell reveals in The Dark Box, with the scandal of clerical child abuse. Drawing on extensive historical sources, contemporary reports, and first-hand accounts, Cornwell takes a hard look at the long evolution of confession.

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