By: Justin Worthing ~Staff Writer~
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has banned its schools from donating any money raised by the popular Ice Bucket Challenge to the ALS Association.
The Archdiocese claims some research supported by the association uses embryonic stem cells, which Catholic teaching finds “morally illicit.”
The ban began last Tuesday when Superintendent of Catholic Schools Jim Rigg sent an email to Cincinnati’s Catholic school principals establishing a policy against donating to the Association. This ban, however, is only on where schools donate and not the competition itself.
“If you want to do an Ice Bucket Challenge, donate the money to another organization that does ALS research and only uses adult stem cells,” the Archdiocese’s Director of Communications Dan Andriacco said in an interview. “One possibility is the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City.”
Last week, four of the Archdiocese’s schools participated in the growing trend, including Rigg and Elder High School principal Tom Otten. All four donated to the John Paul II Institute.
News of the Archdiocese’s new policy has even spread nationally and many have called the Archdiocese for clarification.
“I returned a call from a gentleman in Connecticut, a Catholic gentleman, who was very displeased because of the report he heard on national television,” Andriacco said. “He though we banned our schools from giving money to ALS research entirely, and when I explained to him what was actually done, he was extremely pleased.
“Certainly we’re in favor of scientific research to cure horrible diseases, but there’s a well-established moral principle that a good end is not enough, the means must also be morally licit.”
The ALS Association released a statement saying donors can stipulate that their funds not be invested in this particular study or any stem cell project. Embryonic stem cell research involves extracting cells from an embryo that was conceived through in vitro fertilization.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.
The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS leads to increasing muscle weakness and eventually to the patients’ deaths.
Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The Ice Bucket Challenge is a campaign that aims to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. Thousands around the world have already participated in the challenge, which involves either donating $100 for ALS treatment research or getting filmed while dumping ice cold water voluntarily on oneself.
Videos of people accepting the challenge have spread rapidly on the Internet, and since the campaign more than $80 million has been raised.