During a time when much of the western world has turned to secularization, and has grown increasingly hostile to the Catholic Church’s teaching of the family, sexuality, and the dignity of the human person, one club at Franciscan University of Steubenville has begun defending Catholic moral and social teaching on the world stage.
The Intercollegiate Defense of Equality and Solidarity Club, better known as the IDEAS Club, meets every Wednesday evening to discuss international politics and ways that they, as young Catholic adults, can actively support pro-life and natural law abiding politicians who are trying to implement just and moral laws.
“Right now, there is a lot of pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-LGBTQ individuals at the United Nations that are destroying the family through legislation,” said Marissa Eckelkamp, a sophomore theology major and the coordinator of the IDEAS Club. “For instance, the Committee of Disabled Children at the United Nations is advocating for abortions of disabled children. That is very ironic. That is something that we are trying to fight.”
The club’s main focus has been through missionary work of an unlikely, but important, variety.
“During spring break we go to the CCW – the Commission on the Status of Women,” said Eckelkamp. “And during the year, we train for the mission.”
Training often includes extensive study of pro-life apologetic books and articles. Five months out from their 2019 trip, Eckelkamp said the group is reading Stand for the Family by Sharon Slader, a woman who attended the Geneva Convention in Switzerland and noticed how even a diplomat from the Holy See was having trouble defending Catholic moral social teaching.
The CCW is held at the U.N. and attended by various countries. Its nominal purpose is to promote “gender equality and the empowerment of women,” but discussions at the meetings have become bogged down by groups advocating for increased use of contraception, abortion-on-demand, and recognition of radical gender ideology claims. To counter the agenda of many of the groups represented at the commission, Eckelkamp and the club members work on delivery and public speaking during the months leading up to their trip.
“Everything we do here on campus is in preparation for the CCW and the UN mission,” said Eckelkamp, who details how the Franciscan group only gets one chance to speak to politicians on the floor, and is limited to questions.
“The point is not so much for us to ask a question as it is to form a statement within the question.”
The commitment and devotion this club has put into the fight for Catholic moral and social teachings at the national level is a dynamic that drew Eckelkamp into involvement with the club in the first place.
“I really was inspired to be a part of the club because I see what is going on in the U.N. and the power that it has and realize that although we cannot take away that power, we can try to promote a culture of life amid the culture of death. We are taking our Catholic faith and putting it into action, in the battlefield. Which is what it really is.”