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There is one thing I do blame, I must blame, because it caused me so much suffering as a boy—the delicate-mindedness, or over-protectiveness, or mealy-mouthedness, whichever it was, of the Irish Church, and the sentimentalised picture of life, especially in relation to sex, that it presented to us through its teaching orders and from the pulpit, except when some tough Redemptorist took over to give us a bit of straightforward hell. I think it chiefly was over-protectiveness; as if they believed that if nobody mentioned sex organs we would not notice that we had them . . . A worse result of this niceness and genteelism of my clerical teachers was that, as boys, whatever we learned, mostly incorrect, about our bodies was learned in dark corners and huddles of shame from brutal words and coarse jokes that associated all passion with filth. Whenever I think of the turbulence and agony of nubile youth, the terror of a boy at his first discovery of his manhood, of a young girl at her first experience of womanhood, I can only rage at our pious elders who so sweetly, so virtuously, so loftily and benevolently sent us naked to the wolf of life.

SeŠn ”’FaolŠin (from Vive Moi!, 1964)

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