A number of students at the University of Notre Dame have formed a group seeking to refocus the national debate on marriage back to children and are petitioning the University’s administration to take a “strong stand in support of the true definition of marriage,” according to the Irish Rover.
The petition was created by members of the newly formed Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), made up of undergraduate and graduate students at the University named after Our Lady.
The petition, which they are asking to be signed by those with ties to the University, states:
The University holds itself in harmony with the Catholic teaching that “[s]exuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion.” In accordance with its stated mission to engage in the “pursuit and sharing of the truth for its own sake” and to encourage “a way of living consonant with a Christian community,” we call on the University administration to make a clear stand in support of the true definition of marriage and to take serious and sustained action to improve the public understanding of this natural institution.
A co-founder of the group, Tiernan Kane, told The Cardinal Newman Society that he believes the university should take the lead on marriage.
“The Catholic Church's teaching on marriage, which is universally intelligible to human reason, is informed by a tradition of philosophical reflection that reaches back at least as far as Plato,” he said. “As the nation's premier Catholic university, Notre Dame has the ability, and thus the responsibility, to contribute to--indeed, to lead--public discourse about marriage.”
At the top of the petition the group cites Pope Francis’ comments earlier this year directed towards the University. “Essential…is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of he rpastors,” said Pope Francis. “It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness.”
Senior Michael Bradley, a co-founder of the group, told The Cardinal Newman Society that the administration has been “entirely mute on marriage” while publicly supporting the Dream Act and other contested political issues. He said, “Notre Dame, you have a voice, and it would mean a lot in defense of Church teaching.”
Along with the petition, the group created a conference that took place last week on campus titled, “For Richer, For Poorer, For Children: The Definition and Importance of Civil Marriage.”
Conference speakers, according to the University’s website, included Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., presiding bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches;J ennifer Thieme, director of finance and advancement at the Ruth Institute; Gerard V. Bradley, professor of law at Notre Dame; and Daniel Mark, assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, among others.
“As happened in the early abortion debate, the rights of children are receiving far too little attention in this opening round of the present marriage debate,” said Kane. “We hope that our work leads thoughtful citizens to consider marriage policy from the perspective of children, everyone of whom has an equal right to the care of his or her mother and father.”
In reponse to SCOP’s activity, some Notre Dame students recently created a petition titled “Students Against SCOP: A Petition Against University Recognition of Students for Child Oriented Policy,” claiming that it “discriminates against all non-traditional family structures in a way that is in direct opposition of the university policy on diversity inclusion and message of love and acceptance.”
In an article in the Irish Rover, Bradley points out that many members and officers of PrismND‘s, the university’s gay-straight alliance, have signed the petition.
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