The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession
There is no greater threat to Catholicism’s hold on the minds and hearts of the faithful than the ongoing scandals involving priests and the children they’ve taken advantage of. Church attendance is down, parishes are closing, and reports by the thousands are pouring into news outlets and police logs. And while many within the church are to blame — both the abusers and their protectors — John Cornwell has another huge name to add to the list: Pope Pius X.
The Dark Box is Cornwell’s in-depth examination of the history of confession and the confessional box, explaining how the concept of confession, as well as Pius X’s lowering of the age of confession from fourteen to seven, had serious and dire consequences for the church in general and children in particular.
It’s a theory with plenty of weight behind it, as Cornwell delves into history, psychology, and theology to explore not only how confession offered new opportunities for abuse, but how the abusers themselves rationalized their heinous actions.
Unflinching in its depiction of the selfishness and depravity involved, this book can be difficult to read at times, but it’s important and immensely worthwhile, one more valuable piece in a monstrous puzzle.
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