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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 January 2016
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 confession, tracing the history of the Catholic church over the last half millennium - but confession and its consequences, both intended and unintended are the focal points. Drawing on the author's personal experience as well as extensive research the book makes clear the abuse of the confessional, the focus on sexual matters, and the damage done as a result to many who sought only absolution and peace of mind.

Well written, easy to read, and informative though the content is often shocking. Abuse of confession has done much harm, yes, and that is drawn out clearly here. But confession has given comfort to so many too, and this is not emphasised here enough in my view for a fully balanced picture.

Well worth reading though
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on 10 July 2014
A wonderful insight into the Catholic Church and it's history, the early days of confessional were a reminder of my early days at convent boarding school ugh! Dreading the weekly trip to confession at 6 years of age, and wondering what sins I had committed. But, of course, nothing unusual, as that was the way it was at that time. John Cornwell portrays a very dark picture of a worrying time for many within the Catholic Church.
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on 3 April 2014
This is a very wide-ranging and continually challenging study. It is the kind of book you can revisit again and again. At every turn it opens up new areas for study and debate. The sequence is perhaps questionable, as it floats lightly between past and present, and back again. However, John Cornwell is to be recommended for this endlessly stimulating study of a catholic tradition, surely now in need of "aggiorniamento"
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on 29 April 2015
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on 15 October 2017
Very honest - a bit overly academic in places, if I,m honest, but generally a useful addition to the Canon.
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on 3 October 2015
Excellent book on a secret history of confession
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on 7 July 2016
an excellent book, by a knowledgeable author.
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on 5 September 2015
Excellent book - delivered promptly thank you
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on 25 June 2014
This book confronts a Catholic with uncomfortable truths. I found it thought-provoking although, in the end, I took issue with Cornwell's view. I can believe, as he writes, that confession has been sometimes abused by priests; I can believe too that some individuals have suffered great harm as a result. But I remain convinced that we are all in need of forgiveness and the very act of confession anjd repentance is healthy and restorative. the world, I believe, would be a better place if everyone examined their conscience on a regular basis and confronted their failings: I don't think John Cornwell allows the truth of this enough.
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on 14 September 2014
This was a really good read, both interesting and revealing; so much so that the highlighter in my Kindle had to be rationed. Already a fan of John Cornwell this did not disappoint. It seemed to me that this difficult subject was treated fairly and truthfully, and for me, was not just a detailed and compelling history of the sacrament of confession, along with the abuses that took place, but one that offered a path of understanding through a tragic, complex and faith cracking subject. For some, understanding is so very vital, when dealing with the thought, 'if this can happen in this day and age none of "this" (religion)can be true'.
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