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COCC: Harmful Messaging for an Impressionable Audience

In a few short weeks, Georgetown will host the annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life. This conference, touted as the largest pro-life conference at any college in the country, will feature keynote speakers such as Sr. Bethany Madonna, who consistently express homophobic and misogynistic views. The namesake of the conference, Cardinal John O’Connor, was an extremely immoral figure in the church who, at the height of the AIDS crisis, actively worked to block AIDS prevention programs and the distribution of condoms in New York, ignoring the death and suffering in the LGBT+ community. His comments on abortion show a blatant disregard for the wellbeing of women, such as when he claimed that abortion is intrinsically evil, even in cases of rape or incest. Clearly, these speakers are not pro-life, as they do not care about the quality of life of women or members of the LGBT+ community, preferring to focus on attacking reproductive rights and education.

Hundreds of high school students enrolled in Catholic schools attend the Conference on Life each year. These teenagers are bussed in and exposed to the dangerous messages of the conference. What does that do for a young student’s psyche? Many young students are struggling to find their identity and their place in the world. For their schools and for a top collegiate institution to support a conference that disrespects the lives of women and members of the LGBT+ community is incredibly harmful. Many of these students will likely question their identities or explore their sexuality at some point, and these messages will make them feel incredible guilt and shame.

As an institution of knowledge, Georgetown should not support the brainwashing of vulnerable young people. Instead, the students who would be attending should be encouraged to expose themselves to all viewpoints and form their own opinions. Everyone deserves the chance to embrace their identity and take ownership of their own body, and the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life strives to take that away from hundreds of impressionable students.

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