The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession

By John Cornwell

Confession is an important ritual of the Catholic Church, supplying absolution of sin and religious suggestions to the trustworthy. but this old sacrament has additionally been a resource of controversy and oppression, culminating, as prize-winning historian John Cornwell unearths in The darkish Box, with the scandal of clerical baby abuse. Drawing on wide historic assets, modern stories, and first-hand bills, Cornwell takes a troublesome examine the lengthy evolution of confession.

The papacy made annual, one-on-one confession compulsory for the 1st time within the thirteenth century. within the period that undefined, confession used to be a resource of religious comfort in addition to sexual and mercenary scandal. throughout the sixteenth century, the Church brought the confession field to avoid sexual solicitation of ladies, yet this inner most area gave upward push to new types of temptation, either for penitents and confessors. but no section within the tale of the sacrament has had such drastic effects as a ancient decree by way of Pope Pius X in 1910. In response to the non secular perils of the recent century, Pius sought to guard the Catholic devoted by way of decreasing the age at which young children made their first confession from their early youngsters to seven, whereas exhorting all Catholics to admit often rather than every year. This sweeping, inappropriately early imposition of the sacrament gave clergymen an exceptional and privileged function within the lives of younger boys and girls—a position major quantity may make the most within the a long time that followed.

A much-needed account of confession’s fraught historical past, The darkish Box explores the resources of the sacrament’s damage and disgrace, whereas spotting its carrying on with energy to supply comfort and reconciliation.

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My interview with Cardinal Martini initially seemed in complete within the London Sunday instances journal, 25 April 1993. Twelve: forms of Confessional adventure 1. The tales quoted from my examine all through this bankruptcy are from correspondence I got in accordance with my article within the pill on 18 August 2012 entitled “Where Are the entire Penitents? ” at www. thetablet. co. uk/article/163100, and are in my own documents. 2. Norbert Mette, ‘Children’s Confession’, in Mary Collins and David energy, eds. , The destiny of Confession, Concilium sequence, vol. a hundred ninety (Edinburgh, 1987). three. See, for instance, John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A booklet of Celtic knowledge (London, 1998). Epilogue 1. Julia Kristeva, New Maladies of the Soul, trans. Ross Guberman (New York, 1995), 27ff. 2. Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ: 4 Books, trans. William Benham (London, 1874), bankruptcy II: paragraph 2. three. See Alasdair MacIntyre, After advantage: A examine in ethical thought (London, 1985). four. See Hans Küng and David Tracy, eds. , Paradigm switch in Theology: A Symposium for the longer term (Edinburgh, 1989). In his beginning feedback for the symposium, Jerald Brauer emphasized, for instance, the recent issue of ‘pluralism within the smooth global and in all different types of Christianity this day. ’ He extra: ‘Some admit that truth grudgingly, and do every thing attainable to do away with it. For others, pluralism is fact and perform of a practice within the face of inevitable finite efforts to appreciate, applicable and articulate their culture’ (p. 206). five. Genesis three. five. For additional dialogue, see Richard Kearney, The Wake of mind's eye: rules of Creativity in Western tradition (London, 1988), 39ff. 6. William Golding, Pincher Martin (London, 1956). For dialogue of the importance of Pincher Martin and the character of sin, see Terry Eagleton, On Evil (New Haven, CT, 2010), fifty two. 7. Golding, Pincher Martin, 179. eight. In On Evil, Eagleton reviews on Pincher Martin: ‘There might not more be an individual “in” hell than there might be an individual in a fabric position known as debt or love or melancholy. . . . The damned are those that event God as a Satanic terror, due to the fact that he threatens to prise their selves aside. His love and mercy loosen their carry on themselves, and in doing so hazard depriving them in their most beneficial ownership’ (pp. 24–25). nine. See Nicholas Lash, ‘Teaching or Commanding? ’, the US, thirteen December 2010. 10. Lumen gentium, Dogmatic structure at the Church Solemnly Promulgated by way of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, 21 November 1964, www. vatican. va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en. html; Pope Paul VI, Presbyterorum ordinis, Decree at the Ministry and lifetime of clergymen Promulgated by way of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, 7 December 1965, www. vatican. va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651207_presbyterorum-ordinis_en. html; Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the typical future of guy, trans. Lancelot C. Sheppard and Elizabeth Englund (San Francisco, 1988), 37. eleven. Karl Rahner, SJ, Theological Investigations, vol.

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