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When the She-Pope of Carnegie Mellon showed up at the art parade dressed like the pope from the waist up, nude from the waist down with her womanly hedge fashioned into the shape of a crucifix, the whole display screamed: “Disgruntled Catholic School girl!”

It took weeks, but finally the president of Carnegie Mellon University, Jared Cohon, announced that campus police had charged young clergywoman Katherine B. O’Connor and her stark-naked astronaut cohort and classmate Robb Godshaw with misdemeanor indecent exposure.

In order to understand the underlying message of Katie’s choice of “costume” at the CMU art parade, a little biographical information might be in order.

An art major at Carnegie Mellon, the woman behind the half-a-costume, whose friends like to call her Katie, is an eclectic artist/spoiled rich kid hailing from the affluent Main Line area of Pennsylvania.

As Katie grew into the expressive woman she is today, she always found creative ways to define herself. Multi-faceted in her talents, Ms. O’Connor’s gifts range from piano, guitar, bass, and singing to all-around musical performance.  In her pope-parody, Katie didn’t use musical accompaniment, but organ music would have been a good backdrop to her prelatic march in the art parade.

Nonetheless, Katie, who, among other things, aired out her gripes against the Catholic Church by handing out prophylactics, won her first art award at the tender age of six when she designed a line of maternity clothes for her pregnant stepmom.

From age six on, Katherine grew into a seasoned artist.  After all, being willing to take off her pants, sculpt her pubic accoutrement into a religious symbol, and hand out condoms as a means of artistic expression certainly exhibits a full range of creative growth, or non-growth, however you want to view it – or in this case, not view it.

The question is:  How did Katherine go from designing apparel for moms to handing out condoms?

Yes, you guessed it – she attended Saint Norbert’s School in Paoli, PA.  It may be pure speculation, but some disgruntled Catholic School girls resent having their innate fashion sense quashed by being forced to wear a plaid parochial school uniform. Katie expressed hers not by changing her outfit, but by taking it off.

It’s highly unlikely that the teachers who mentored the girl who starred in seasonal school plays, sang in the choir, and received the Art Award upon graduation ever imagined that eloquent imagination of hers would gain her, and ultimately them, such notoriety.

After St. Norbert’s, Katie’s well-heeled parents paid almost $20,000 a year to further their gifted child’s education at Notre Dame de Namur Academy: an all-girl preparatory Catholic high school.  While there, for another three years, the budding artist again had her creativity thwarted when she was compelled to contribute to a Catholic school sense of community by wearing a uniform.

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