The Roman Catholic Church has really screwed up generations of loyal Catholics, especially when it comes to sex.
I have seen so many instances of this in my 45 years as a priest.
One case was quite extreme when I was a curate in Kilkeel – 1983 – 1984.
One weekday morning the mother of two sons and one daughter arrived to the presbytery to see me.
Unusually, she was holding what looked like folded bed sheets.
She was very upset.
She had two sons – one aged 15 and one aged 17 and she told me that when making their beds she had discovered the sheets were semen stained.
She was very distressed because her sons were regularly committing “mortal sins” and she was afraid that if anything happened to them they would go straight to hell!
She asked me to talk to her sons about their sins and to ask them to stop masturbating and to go to immediate confession after each time they did it if they couldn’t stop.
I was flabbergasted by the visit and by the details of it.
This lady was a very good lady – a daily Mass goer, a prayerful woman and a highly charitable woman, a good wife and a good mother.
She was as well educated and a very talented artist and musician.
But her poor conscience had been pulverised by years of listening to nuns and priests going on about sex and sexual sins.
She was genuinely in great distress.
I did my very best to explain to her the normal sexual development, especially of boys.
I tried to explain to her the utter normality of boys and men masturbating, not to mention girls or women.
I gave her a small reading list.
But some nuns and priests had convinced her that every time a man masturbates he wipes out 300,000 souls.
Eventually she settled down and left it with God.
As a priest once said to me:
“Pat, they wouldn’t let us get rid of our semen, and it went to our heads and made us mad”.