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Plea to Pope Francis: Stop childhood Confession

Plea to Pope Francis: Stop childhood Confession

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Published by: Vatican Crimes Exposed on Feb 10, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Plea to Pope:“Stopchildhood Confession!”
In anopen letter to Pope Francis,the award winningCatholicauthor,John Cornwell,whowas victim ofsexual solicitation in Confession as a boy,has called for aban onchildhoodConfession.The letter follows theUN’s harsh criticism of the Vatican over its handling of paedophile priests.Backed,he claims,by thousandsofclergy,teachersandparents,Cornwellchargesthat“obligatoryConfessionofyoungchildren insituationsof unsupervised intimacyhas been a crucial factorinclerical sexualabuse.Theobligation for children to confess before they make their firstHoly Communion, agedseven,hesays,continues to put children at risk.“FirstConfession should be delayed until a young person has acquired maturity,he says. “Theritualofforgiveness of sinsshould be allowedin the case of children onlyina public act of worship.”The lettercoincides with thepublication in theUS,Germany, Ireland, the UKandBritish CommonwealthofCornwell’sinvestigativebook,
The Dark Box:A SecretHistory of Confession
. The bookreports widespreadcases, recent and historic,ofconfessionbeingusedtotest the vulnerability ofchild penitentsforsexualsolicitation.He estimates that more than 40 per centof paedophile offences were committed by priests who had been trusted and given access as confessors.Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, EmeritusArchbishop of Westminster,has written to Cornwell concedingthat Confession, now known as “the sacrament of Reconciliation”,has not received “serious reflection by anyauthoritative people within the Church.” There should be“proper reform of the sacrament,”he says.Frequent confession of children barely out of infancy,Cornwellstates,wasfirstintroducedin 1910by PopePius X,wholowered thetraditionalage at which childrenmadetheirfirst confessionfrompuberty(about 13or 14, sometimes later)downtoseven.Cornwell has assembled an extensivedossierofclerical sexual abuseby confessors, both within theconfessional box and outside.He citesthe experiences ofhundreds ofrespondents. Apriest-psychotherapistworking for twenty years with paedophilepriests writes:“in all those cases of clerical abuse of minors, thesacrament of confession was used by the molester to discover vulnerability and groom candidates for abuse.”Moreover, says Cornwell,”abusersfrequentlyexploitedconfessiontosquare the circle of theiroffending andpastoral lives.”He citesthe case ofa priest who confessed his paedophile attacks 1400 times to 32 differentpriests.Cornwellhascopied thepapal letterto seniormembers of theCuria.He says:“This is a listening Pope whowants to know what Catholics really think.I hope that he will act.”
Eamon Duffy,Professorof the History of Christianity in the University of Cambridge,saysCornwell’s
TheDark Box
is a
“major contribution to the Catholic Church’s examination of conscience aboutthe roots and circumstances of sexual abuse.”
Catholic best-selling author,David Lodge, writes
:“Confession turns out to be the key thatexplains so much that is discreditablein the history of the Catholic Church.”
Contact John Cornwellvia email: jc224@cam.ac.ukorpublicity@profilebooks.com in USLeah.Stecher@perseusbooks.com

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