Sexuality in the Confessional

Sexuality in the Confessional : A Sacrament Profaned

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Haliczer's timely work uses a wealth of actual cases to document the eroticizing of the confessional between 1530 and 1819. Trial evidence left by the Spanish Inquisition vividly describes the sexual misconduct of priests and the reactions of the Church. What Haliczer shows is that the Counter-Reformation Church, eager to re-assert its morality and control, actually helped foster sexual solicitation in the confessional.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 274 pages
  • 158.5 x 238.3 x 23.4mm | 635.04g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones
  • 0195096568
  • 9780195096569
  • 2,077,044

Review quote

A major contribution to the history of sexuality in early modern Europe and to the growing literature on the vast database for social and cultural history offered by the records of the Spanish Inquisition. It is the most important contribution to the study of sexual solicitation in the confessional since H.C. Lea's Auricular Confession and Indulgences, published exactly 100 years ago. * Choice *
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Back cover copy

In Sexuality in the Confessional: A Sacrament Profaned, Stephen Haliczer places the current debate on sex, celibacy, and the Catholic Church in a historical context by drawing upon a wealth of actual case studies and trial evidence to document how, from 1530 to 1819, sexual transgression attended the heightened significance of the Sacrament of Penance. Attempting to reassert its moral and social control over the faithful, the Counter-Reformation Church underscored the importance of communion and confession. Priests were asked to be both exemplars of celibacy and "doctors of souls", and the Spanish Inquisition was there to punish transgressors. Haliczer relates the stories of these priests as well as their penitents, using the evidence left by Inquisition trials to vividly depict sexual misconduct during and after confession, and the punishments wayward priests were forced to undergo. In the process, he sheds new light on the Church of the period, the repressed lives of priests, and the lives of their congregations; coming to a conclusion as startling as it is timely. Both Inquisition and the Church, he finds, must shoulder much of the blame for eroticizing the confessional. The increased scrutiny of clerical celibacy and the disciplinary and consolatory function of the Sacrament, created and intensified sexual tensions, anxiety, and guilt for both priests and penitents, sexually charging the confessional and laying the groundwork for the Sacrament to be profaned. Based on an exhaustive investigation of Inquisition cases involving soliciting confessors as well as numerous confessors' manuals and other works, Sexuality in the Confessional makes a significant contribution to the history ofsexuality, women's history, and the sociology of religion.
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