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. 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 of sexuality, women's history, and the sociology of religion.
- Publication Date:
- 05 / 12 / 1995