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Explore SCOP with an open mind

| Monday, March 31, 2014

Two years ago, when the 4 to 5 Movement was at its height, I confess I found myself suspicious of the motivations and objectives of the group. I did not know, based solely on the signs and slogans, what was truly at the heart of the movement. I could not immediately discern if the movement was guided by the Catholic view of the inherent dignity of every individual and by the mission to lessen and prevent the isolation and alienation many LGBT people feel, which might be particularly acutely felt at Notre Dame. I thought it was equally possible that the movement was pursuing an agenda that was ultimately incompatible with Catholicism, particularly with its doctrines on the nature and purpose of human sexuality.
Although I was suspicious about the intentions of the movement, I had faith that my fellow Notre Dame students had good reasons for their participation, so I decided to look into it more. I read the petition closely, spoke to friends who were involved and even contacted the movement’s leadership. I found that they were arguing in good faith, with good intentions and with strong arguments. Ultimately, I concluded not only that my friends were right to lend their voices to the petition asking the administration to review its approach to addressing the needs of LGBT students, but also that I could not in good conscience refrain from adding my own name to the petition and my voice to supporting the movement.
Now, I am a member of Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), a group of students circulating a petition of its own asking the University administration to strengthen its promotion of greater public understanding of marriage as a natural institution that unites a man and a woman in a comprehensive sharing of life which is, in the words of the Catechism, “ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.”
The University’s public support for this understanding of the true meaning of marriage was unequivocally stated in “Beloved Friends and Allies,” the pastoral plan issued in response to the 4 to 5 Movement’s efforts; however, given the continuing developments in the debate over the meaning of marriage, the University of Notre Dame should demonstrate ever more clearly ⎯ to Americans as well as to the people and governments of countries like Russia, Uganda, and Nigeria ⎯ that there is no contradiction whatsoever between defending the full dignity of our LGBTQ brethren and promoting man-woman marriage as a natural human institution.
I understand why some people might be suspicious of SCOP, of its petition or of its April 3 conference on the definition and importance of civil marriage. I understand these doubts because they are so similar to the ones I once harbored about the 4 to 5 Movement. I, therefore, encourage anyone who feels doubts about SCOP to do what I did: Talk to us. Attend our events. Understand our arguments for yourself. See whether you are convinced.

Timothy Kirchoff
Dillon Hall
March 27

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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