Nearly 500 students, clergy, activists, and scholars gathered together in Gaston Hall for the 16th annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life on Saturday, Jan. 24. Started by Georgetown students, the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life—which is the nation’s largest student-run pro-life conference—strives to create intellectually rigorous discourse in the pro-life debate that is sensitive to the particular concerns of this generation.
This year’s Conference had no shortage of intellectual rigor.
His Eminence Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley delivered a passionate keynote on abortion and euthanasia, stressing the need for those in the pro-life movement to turn their attention to young mothers. Lighthearted yet pointed and powerful, Cardinal O’Malley captivated the youthful audience, whom he stressed were the future leaders of the pro-life movement (as mentioned in his blog post following the Conference).
After His Eminence’s keynote, the Conference continued with several dynamic breakout discussions in various classrooms in Healy Hall. For the first time, an international child rights specialist spoke at the Conference: former Legal Child Advocate for Oprah Winfrey and Georgetown alumnus Elizabeth Yore, COL ’74. Rev. Fields S.J. also delivered a standing room only breakout session on the natural law. Other speakers included Damon Clarke Owens, head of the Theology of the Body Institute, and Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, a post-abortion healing ministry.
A provocative panel discussion titled “The End of Intelligent Debate?” closed the Conference. Mary Hasson, Rev. Joseph Koterski S.J., Mona Charen, and Richard Doerflinger all discussed various sociological and ideological elements that impede open discourse and plague honest inquiry of all life issues.
The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Most Reverend Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, celebrated the Mass for Life in Georgetown’s Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart.
We truly believe that students take the intellectual discourse from the Conference and wear it on their hearts, better prepared to engage in more effective dialogue on pro-life topics as they return to their respective campuses across the nation.
We sincerely thank you for your continued support to a Conference truly representative of Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit values, and we hope to see you at next year’s Conference.
Spencer Crawford, SFS ’16