According to Cincinnati.com the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has issued a directive to the principals of its Catholic schools not to encourage the popular fund-raising challenge because it funds research using embryonic stem cells.
Archdiocesan spokesman Dan Andriacco said there's nothing wrong with the challenge itself, but Catholics should not contribute the funds collected to the ALS Association. Instead, they suggest they fund ALS research being conducted at the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, where only conducted adult stem cells are used.
"(Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a terrible disease," Andriacco said. "We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in this. But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that end must be morally licit."
Because a human life is destroyed when stem cells are harvested from an embryo, the practice is considered illicit.
ALS, which is often called "Lou Gehrig's disease" is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in teh brain and spinal chord, according to the Association's web site. Patients in later stages of the disease often become totally paralyzed."
Carrie Munk, a representative for the ALS Association, confirmed to The Blaze yesterday that while the organization primarily funds research using adult stem cells, they are currently funding one study that is using embryonic stem cells.
“Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC), and the stem cell line was established many years ago under ethical guidelines set by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS),” said a statement from the Association. “This research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research.”
Munk also told The Blaze that any donors who have ethical concerns with embryonic stem cell research can stipulate that the money they donate not be used for this particular study.
Thus far, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $41.8 million for the Association since July 29 when the concept went viral on social media. This is compared to just $2.1 million raised during the same time last year.
As of this writing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not issued a similar directive to Catholics, and called the Cincinnati decision "a local matter" when questioned by the press.
The ALS Association recently announced the launch of 21 new projects it plans to fund with newly collected research money - none of which will involve embryonic stem cells.
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