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Photo of open-air confessional boxes in use
IKEA confessions

Posted on 17 August 2011, 12:40

Not being a Catholic myself, I always experience an illicit thrill when walking into a Roman church, long-lost black sheep of the family that I am. I feel like I imagine a nun must feel walking into a lap-dancing club… just a bit out of my depth.

I do know how to find my way round, though. How to fake the sign of the cross, how to find a friendly saint among all the bleeding and weeping statues, where to buy a candle, where to sit quietly to think and pray. The thing I’ve not been able to crack is the confessional box. I’d love to sit inside one of the frightful old things with their creepy Gothic look, except I’m sure they have central locking triggered by a priest watching on CCTV and walls that close in on you.

But confessional boxes just got a whole lot friendlier thanks to the open-air models that have been knocked together, IKEA-like, in a park in Madrid. They’re part of World Youth Day, a big Catholic event happening this week. Now you can get your sins off your chest in the sunshine and fresh air instead of behind a pair of heavy velvet curtains sourced from the set of The Addams Family.

The Diocese of Madrid is even offering women who use the prefab confessionals forgiveness for having an abortion, which is normally an excommunicating offence in the Catholic Church. That would be really nice of them if excommunication wasn’t such a cruel and bizarre response to the pastoral situation of abortion in the first place.

I’ve just added the IKEA confessional box to the Ship of Fools Gadgets for God pages.

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