Image courtesy of The Student Government Association
By Claire Prudhomme
The Student Government Association (SGA), Black Student Alliance (BSA), Student Organization of Latinos (SOL), and the Filipino Organization of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) came together to organize the “Recenter, Refocus and Remind” event in a matter of three days in light of student petitions and grievances against the session with Abby Johnson. The students from these organizations came together along with pro-life guest speakers and staff to have a conversation “on the consistent ethic of life”on Tuesday, February 9.
The event was organized to create a platform for students to speak their minds regarding ideas of a consistenly pro-life view and its place in the world. After hearing Abby Johnson was coming to speak for the Cardinals For Life, many students signed petitions created by SOL and College Democrats to protest her speaking on campus.
Cardinals for Life, allegedly under pressure from students and the Chaplain Rev. Jude DeAngelo, removed Abby Johnson as their speaker the night before she was expected to speak. College Republicans picked up the talk, regarding the cancellation of her event as “censorship,” and stating that it was nothing new in “tactics being used by far left-wing activists.” College Republicans maintained that they wished “to defend a culture of open dialogue and discussion.”
The event, created in response to the Fight for Life talk, began with leaders of SGA, BSA, SOL, FOCUS, and the CUA Ministry holding a prayer for the students. The prayer encouraged love, forgiveness, and faith in the upholding of Catholic values on campus.
The two speakers, Dr. Ansel Augustine and Leticia Ochos Adams, began by sharing their ideas about the consistent ethic for life. Dr. Augustine opened by stating, “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” Augustine had an initial career in radio and said that God eventually called him to work with young people in his neighborhood in Tremaine, Louisiana.
He first felt his call to protect the right to life upon seeing the rapid gentrification of his childhood neighborhood. Augustine discussed that the right to life issue in that neighborhood was the idea of its inhabitants just trying to make it through the day.
Adams discussed that the right to life isn’t just at the creation and the beginning of human life but goes further than that, through the entirety of a person’s life. She discussed the inequity in resources, especially healthcare, among women of color and that the right to life begins in making these resources widely available to them. Adams was passionate about preventing suicide, racism, and fighting for benefits for women alongside the birth of a child.
Both speakers discussed that unity was the biggest issue that needed to be addressed in order to create a solution in the right for life debate. They discussed how both sides of the argument lack a certain level of respect for women, especially women of color. In these situations one side encourages adoption and one side encourages abortion, but both neglect to see the situation of the woman.
The consistent ethic of life is the opposition of abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and unjust wars. This phrase was termed by Cardinal Joseph Bernadin at a lecture at Fordham University, and has been used since then to describe what many view as the Catholic Church’s right to life argument. Both Augustine and Adams discussed the importance of recognizing the community and the dignity of the human being from the moment of conception all the way through to the moment of death.
The event ended with SOL President Angela Diaz sharing her views on the extent of the right to life and her interactions with her peers over the past few days. Center for Cultural Engagement Director Javier Bustamante discussed how he wanted to create a program that encourages debate and speaking among students.
The Recenter, Refocus, and Remind event combined the efforts of cultural and pro-life groups on campus to give a night highlighting different perspectives of the campus community.