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Tuesday 28 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
condom image via Shutterstock
lets talk about sex

Teens told by Pure in Heart that condoms fail one in six times

And in separate claims, students who attended a retreat in Knock also said they were told by speakers that they would lose certain hormones the more often they had sex.

Updated 22.55pm

TEENAGERS WHO WERE spoken to by the Catholic group Pure in Heart say that they were told that condoms fail one in six times. They also told that speakers from the group told them that condoms become less effective if kept in a wallet because heat melts them.

Following on from recent revelations about roleplay methods involving sticky tape used by the group to promote chastity in a Dublin school, a number of students at a school in the southwest of the country spoke to about Pure in Heart’s teachings around contraception.

As part of a different game during the talk teens were asked to roll a large dice and, one student said they were essentially told that every time someone rolled a six, it symbolised having a baby, as “condoms fail one in six times”.

The student added:

By the end of the demonstration we had something like nine babies between us.

Another student explained: “They said that heat makes the rubber in condoms melt, so they’re not effective when you put them in your wallet and they don’t work in Africa.”

One teen at the school said the talk frightened him, as he had a girlfriend at the time and had been having sex.

I heard what these two men were telling us about condoms not working when you put them in your wallet due to heat. I was 16 and never had any real sexual education. I was terrified. I’d had kept condoms in my wallets, what if I was gonna be a Dad?

When one of these students questioned the Pure in Heart speakers on the issue, they were disciplined by a teacher for “disrespecting a visitor to the school”.

In another school where the group was invited to speak to students, one said: “They never gave us information about contraception or safe sex except they believed the morning after pill to be a type of abortion.

“Looking back now I remember how bad they made us all feel about sex,” he said. “Every time we had a sexual relationship we would somehow become lesser individuals not as ‘pure’ as those who wait for it.”


At a Pure in Heart pilgrimage in Knock, pupils from a Dublin school were also told by volunteers that two hormones released during sex are used up when a person loses their virginity.

Two former sixth-year students at the school said they were under the impression that the retreat, organised by an adult from their school, would involve a discussion about charity work and that was why they volunteered to attend.

“They began suggesting that vasopressin and oxytocin were magical hormones released once in a person’s life – during the first time they have sex,” one student explained. “They used this to tell us that having lost our virginity we would find it difficult or nigh on impossible to formalise emotional ties with our eventual wife.”

These two hormones are released in the body at different times like during childbirth or after a person has eaten certain foods.

“A few of us were visibly anxious and unhappy in our chairs but, out of respect for the person who brought us, we didn’t say anything,” he said. “I did actually walk out at one point to clear my head but then I came back.

If that had been a 15-year-old it would have been very different. I mean, the fact that they quoted science – I’m not OK with groups going into schools and doing that. I’m a scout leader and I can’t imagine people coming into my group and saying these things.

Another student, who also attended the pilgrimage, took part in the sticky tape roleplay, which revealed two weeks ago. He was taped at the wrist to a number of the female Pure in Heart speakers and to a male student who was asked to wear a wig.

“It was a bit daft to come up with such a bold thing and they were insinuating that only women would be involved – there was no other option and no thought that anyone could be gay in the room.”

Both students said that the person who helped organise the trip later apologised to the group, saying he was unaware that such issues would be discussed. Neither this person nor the headmaster at the school responded to enquiries made regarding the trip.

Pure in Heart has contacted the organisation several times requesting comment on these claims.

In response, Pure in Heart referred to a statement it released on 18 February and an interview with spokesperson Ann O’Reilly on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke show.

“Further correspondence shall be forthcoming, however in the interim, please refer to the above mentioned as point of reference,” they said.

O’Reilly, in her RTÉ interview, said that the organisation does not “have  a negative view of sex”.

She said members had educated themselves about sexuality and relationships, with the “aim of imparting that information to other young people so that they could make an informed decision about their own lifestyle choice in relation to sexuality”.

Reilly also described the feedback from schools as “overwhelmingly positive”.

The headmaster at one school in which Pure in Heart was invited to speak, who did not wish to be identified, told that there had been “no difficulties communicated to us”.

We feel we have good communication channels with the pupils and the parents in this school and actually any feedback we did have on the group has been quite positive.

However he said that following on from recent developments, the school “will look at it and bring it up with parents and the lads”.

Appropriate, evidence-based methodologies

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said all talks delivered by visitors at schools must use “appropriate, evidence-based methodologies with clear educational outcomes” and should be provided by people with specific training in the area.

The spokesperson added:

Schools are advised to avoid the following approaches: scare tactics; sensationalist interventions; testimonials; information only interventions; information that is not age appropriate; once off/short term interventions ; normalising young people’s risky behaviour; and a didactic approach.

Last month, Peter McGuire reported in the Irish Times that a number of groups are delivering unsupervised sex education talks in post-primary schools, in some cases without parental approval. This investigation was supported by the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund.

Originally published 6.45am

Read: Pure in Heart: “We don’t have a negative view of sex”>

Read: Students taped together by wrists in sex education talk by Catholic group>