The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession Hardcover – 10 Feb 2014
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The subject is a very important one and I am glad you have tackled it. The extraordinary change with regard to the sacrament and its regular use is something that seems to have happened without serious reflection by any authoritative people in the church. So I am sure your study will help in a process of reflection that should continue in the years ahead... proper reform of the practice of the sacrament of reconciliation is necessary so that people are not deprived of its benefits. (Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster)
The Dark Box is a major contribution to the Catholic church's examination of conscience about the roots and circumstances of sexual abuse. (Eamon Duffy The Guardian 2014-02-08)
The Dark Box is a heartfelt mixture of history, theology and memoir that feels like one of John Cornwell's most important works. Even Pope Francis could learn something from it. (Andrew Lynch Sunday Business Post 2014-02-02)
It's a powerful and disturbing addition to the literature on the subject, and lays bare the dysfunctional nature of a church which has still come nowhere near to facing its own self-inflicted demons. (Irish Independent 2014-02-15)
Far from being merely a history of the Catholic sacrament of confession, his book is a meticulously researched, carefully wrought and quietly furious anathema upon the Catholic Church as constituted from the Council of Trent in the 16th century up to the present day. (John Banville Financial Times 2014-02-15)
John Cornwell has genuinely interesting things to say about confession. (Melanie McDonagh Evening Standard)
The Dark Box is a powerful, impassioned treatise about the dangers of confession. (Catheriine Peppinster The Observer 2014-02-23)
I found myself persuaded by his central thesis. The Catholic church has a sex obsession that is powered by enforced celibacy, and this sex obsession sometimes finds a perverse outlet in the dark box of confession. (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday 2014-02-23)
Cornwell is a humane man with a sharp intellect. (Christopher Howse The Telegraph 2014-03-01)
John Cornwell, who has himself chosen cautiously to return to the Church which did him some very bad turns in his youth, has much to tell it, as it seeks to find a new way forward. (Diarmaid Macculloch Literary Review 2014-03-01)
The Dark Box is a book that anyone concerned with the future of the Catholic Church should take very seriously. (Peter Marshall TLS 2014-03-28)
Deeply felt, important and powerfully expressed. (Frank Cottrell Boyce New Statesman 2014-04-04)
The sacred and profane history of confession in the Catholic Church, with a shocking new exposé of its role in the child abuse scandals of the twentieth century.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This book by John Cornwell will undoubtedly upset many people because of what it reveals about the history of confession in the catholic church. I doubt it will lead to many Catholics changing their beliefs. Despite this, it is a very important book which demands wide readership particularly in view of the recent United Nation's report. It is not what some will argue an anti-catholic polemic but a well-researched and balanced analysis.based on a very wide range of historical sources.and the personal testimonies of fellow Catholics past and present.
Cornwell writes as a former insider. He was brought up in the East End of London by a very devaout Irish mother.He was instructed in the Catholic faith by nuns from the age of five, making his first confession at seven. At age 12 he wanted to become a priest having 'fallen in love.with the ritual of the mass'. He spent 5 years in a junior seminary 150 miles from home. One day he was sexually propositioned by one of the priests during confession. Nevertheless, he went on to the senior seminary. But by the age of 21 he decided life as a priest was not for him. After Cambridge he abandoned Catholicism. Yet he married a devout Catholic who brought up their children in the faith..
In his book the author describes in detail the history of the confession and how it changed from kneeling before a seated priest to a box. He says that the confession has been largely abandoned today despite pleas from pope, Benedict XV1.Read more ›
We learn from John Cornwell that moral theology, following the Council of Trent, would focus with casuisitc intensity on the refined complexities of intentions and conscience. There was scant reflection on a positive Christian theology: the fostering of virtues for the common good (ideas inherent in the theology of Thomas Aquinas). I recall that the sin of lust received foremost attention, followed by the sin of disobedience to the Church. Pope Pius X (1903-14), writes Cornwell, promoted acquiescence to authority, with no room for individual conscience and judgement. I would ask to what extent did such institutionalisation of conscience facilitate the collapse of the German Center Party that could have prevented the advent of Hitler?
The Second Vatican Council subtly announced the emancipation of the layety.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this a few months before seeing the film “Spotlight” came out and would recommend it as supportive reading to the film as well as a fascinating, well-written book on a... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Greta
As someone who regularly made my confession (as an Anglican where less people went so there was more time to do it justice) I have long been fascinated by this sacrament and its... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mr. D. P. Jay
An interesting book on the subject of confession and its growth and subsequent decline in Catholic doctrine and practice, The book is inevitably wider in scope than just... Read morePublished 6 months ago by markr
A thorough exploration of the history of confession and its power as a mind controlling tool. I was shocked to learn that some confessional boxes were doctored in a way to... Read morePublished 13 months ago by d moore
THE PHRASE 'I LOVE IT' SEEMS WRONG IN THE CONTEXT OF THE BOOK. IT WAS WELL WRITTEN AND INFORMATIVE.Published 15 months ago by Pearl
As one who only confesses his sins to God and not some in-between go-between, I found this fascinating, disturbing and informative. Read morePublished 21 months ago by billeeboy