Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I wonder what the Penance would be

I've heard of Murder in the Cathedral.....

.... but not sex.

I read this article on CNN this morning about a couple caught in flagrante delicto:

A man and a woman have been charged by police in Italy after they were found having sex in a confession box, it was reported Wednesday.

The Italian ANSA news agency said the young man and woman were taken into custody by police in the northern city of Cesena following a telephone complaint from a man attending morning Mass in the city's cathedral.

Authorities were alerted after a parishoner heard "rustling and groaning" coming from inside the confession box and pulled back the curtains to reveal a goth-rock couple engaged in oral sex, ANSA said.

The agency said the pair -- a 31-year-old laborer and a 32-year-old teacher -- defended their conduct saying: "We are atheists and for us, having sex in church is like doing it any other place." However, Bishop Antonio Lanfranchi of Cesena-Sarsina took said the couple's behavior was "an outrage of notable proportions which bespeaks unutterable squalor."
For some reason this reminded me of something I saw at Andrew Sullivan's blog a couple of weeks ago, from Drexel University. A faculty member has researched medieval punishments for coital sins.

The distinguished faculty members research has discovered the penance for all varieties of sexual acts including:
Dorsal sex (woman on top): three years Lateral, seated, standing: 40 daysCoitus retro — rear entry: 40 daysMutual masturbation: 30 daysInter-femural sex — ejaculation between the legs: 40 daysCoitus in terga — anal sex: three years (with an adult); two years (with a boy); seven years (habitual); 10 years (with a cleric).

I wasn't able to locate any specific penance for having sex in a cathedral though. Perhaps being atheists they'll consider Baptism and forgo the whole Punishment.

The rector added that a special ceremony would be held to purify the confession box, which I'm sure will involve a lot of soap.

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1 comment:

Gashwin said...

Oh geez. Where does one start?

Sure, you're atheist. But would you walk into someone else's home and have sex in their closet?

Or would you have sex in a public place?

I mean is there such a thing as civility any more?

The medieval penitentials seem quite amusing from our perspective. For many it confirms the suspicion that the Church is unhealthily obsessed with pelvic matters. [Often it is folks who are themselves obsessed with pelvic matters who make this charge. Sullivan comes to mind.]

I suppose we're at the other extreme now, where the sexual sins are considered at best peccadilloes, or, basically, harmless. "After all, my heart is in the right place." [Even if other parts of me ... um ... might not be? :)]

But, I suppose, that's the peculiarity of our age.

Anyway, perhaps they might be motived by a miraculous inspiration from the Holy Spirit to pursue Baptism. I doubt that they'd submit to any canonical penalty though ... :)

What a world!