SEX AND THE CONFESSIONAL by Norberto & Clara Di Meglio Valentini


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Valentini and Di Meglio, two enterprising Italian journalists bugged their own confessionals to produce a book that scandalized all Italy and resulted in their prompt excommunication. Concealed tape recorder in hand, they traveled up and down the country visiting some 636 confessionals; both ""confessed"" to sexual ""sins"" carefully worked out beforehand: premarital sex between engaged couples, love play, birth control, masturbation and extramarital relationships between legally separated couples. If their intent was to prove that the Church as represented by the parish priest is appallingly out of touch with contemporary social and psychological reality, that many priests were malicious, petty, intransigent, not overly bright, and sometimes salaciously eager to hear juicy details (and one suspects this was the authors' intent) then they have certainly succeeded. Confronted with genuine human dilemmas by respectful, sincere and troubled ""penitents,"" the priestly response is almost always rigid, absolutist, static -- or at best evasive. Only the exceptional priest is honest enough to admit that the Church's stance on sexual morality might be changing, might be in need of change. Young couples soon to be married and concerned about possible sexual incompatability are told that they're just making excuses for ""bestial"" behavior. Those with broken marriages who want to begin a new life are told they cannot -- you made your bed, now lie in it. Even so, for each ""sin"" brought before them, a small percentage of confessors are capable of showing compassion and understanding even though as one priest says ""It's a special absolution because I shouldn't, but I'll give it to you just the same. All right?"" A fascinating and enlightening book which justifies the rather sensational investigative methods used.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1974
Publisher: Stein & Day