This article examines one of Marie de Gournay’s forays into religious controversy in her short text “Advis à quelques gens d’Église.” First published in L’Ombre de la damoiselle de Gournay (1626), the text is an indictment of the abuse of the sacrament of confession by both penitents and confessors, and points to a rigorist stance on the part of the author nearly twenty years before it became the dominant position of the church once again. Tackling a range of thorny questions such as the aim of confession, deferred absolution, and the nature of sin, Gournay examines confession as a societal institution, outlining how it fails utterly to reduce the daily experience of petty injustices and wrongdoing. Placing that failure squarely at the feet of the clergy, Gournay includes advice for the confessors, making of the text a secular “manuel des confesseurs”—an extraordinary undertaking for a laywoman at the time.

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