The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession

Cornwell, John

Published by Profile Books, 2015
ISBN 10: 1781251096 / ISBN 13: 9781781251096
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Num Pages: 320 pages. BIC Classification: HRCC2; HRCC7; HRCV2. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 200 x 130 x 21. Weight in Grams: 270. . 2015. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9781781251096

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Synopsis: 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.

The papacy made annual, one-on-one confession obligatory for the first time in the 13th century. In the era that followed, confession was a source of spiritual consolation as well as sexual and mercenary scandal. During the 16th century, the Church introduced the confession box to prevent sexual solicitation of women, but this private space gave rise to new forms of temptation, both for penitents and confessors. Yet no phase in the story of the sacrament has had such drastic consequences as a historic decree by Pope Pius X in 1910. In reaction to the spiritual perils of the new century, Pius sought to safeguard the Catholic faithful by lowering the age at which children made their first confession from their early teens to seven, while exhorting all Catholics to confess frequently instead of annually. This sweeping, inappropriately early imposition of the sacrament gave priests an unprecedented and privileged role in the lives of young boys and girls a role that a significant number would exploit in the decades that followed.

A much-needed account of confession’s fraught history, The Dark Box explores the sources of the sacrament’s harm and shame, while recognizing its continuing power to offer consolation and reconciliation.

About the Author: John Cornwell is a Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. The author of the New York Times bestseller Hitler’s Pope, he lives in Draughton, England.

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Title: The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession
Publisher: Profile Books
Publication Date: 2015
Binding: Soft cover
Book Condition: New

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Book Description Profile Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Main. Language: English . Brand New Book. Would you tell your deepest secrets to a relative stranger? And if you did, would you feel vulnerable? Cleansed? Or perhaps even worse than you did before? Confession has always performed a complex role in society, always created mixed feelings in its practitioners. As an acknowledgement of sinfulness, it can provide immense psychological relief; but while aiming to replace remorse with innocence, its history has become inextricably intertwined with eroticism and shame. The Dark Box is an erudite and personal history; Cornwell draws on his own memories of Catholic boyhood, and weaves it with the story of confession from its origins in the early church to the current day, where its enduring psychological potency is evidenced by everything from the Vatican s confession app to Oprah Winfrey s talk shows. Since the 16th century, seclusion of two individuals in the intimate dark box , often discussing sexual actions and thoughts, has eroticised the experience of confession. When, in 1905, Pius X made confession a weekly, rather than yearly ritual, the horrific cases of child abuse which have haunted the Catholic church in the twentieth century became possible. John Cornwell s impassioned treatise on the dangers of confession is now available in paperback. Seller Inventory # AA99781781251096

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Book Description Profile Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Main. Language: English . Brand New Book. Would you tell your deepest secrets to a relative stranger? And if you did, would you feel vulnerable? Cleansed? Or perhaps even worse than you did before? Confession has always performed a complex role in society, always created mixed feelings in its practitioners. As an acknowledgement of sinfulness, it can provide immense psychological relief; but while aiming to replace remorse with innocence, its history has become inextricably intertwined with eroticism and shame. The Dark Box is an erudite and personal history; Cornwell draws on his own memories of Catholic boyhood, and weaves it with the story of confession from its origins in the early church to the current day, where its enduring psychological potency is evidenced by everything from the Vatican s confession app to Oprah Winfrey s talk shows. Since the 16th century, seclusion of two individuals in the intimate dark box , often discussing sexual actions and thoughts, has eroticised the experience of confession. When, in 1905, Pius X made confession a weekly, rather than yearly ritual, the horrific cases of child abuse which have haunted the Catholic church in the twentieth century became possible. John Cornwell s impassioned treatise on the dangers of confession is now available in paperback. Seller Inventory # AA99781781251096

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