Clark, the confessed, self-loathing Catholic from Philadelphia

Back in the day, to be a Catholic school student in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was, by modern standards, to be abused psychologically and physically. Every high school seemed to have at least one priest who was a former Golden Gloves champion and was willing to demonstrate his technique on a prideful student or three. That was part of the mystique, lore, and reality of being a Catholic school kid. And we celebrated it the way Marines celebrate surviving Parris Island.

I think psychiatrists call it the Stockholm syndrome, in which hostages come to identify with and support their captors. They also have a name for the psychological condition manifesting itself in varying degrees among many of us in this room tonight: post-traumatic stress syndrome.

We child soldiers for Christ have been betrayed by our commanders. Most of us are angry or in denial. Some of us are broken.

But what the people who label us “self-loathing Catholics” don’t understand is how much we loved the church. They don’t understand that this awful feeling wasn’t our choice. It was the church that abandoned us. Everybody!

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