The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is discouraging its employees from taking the ice bucket challenge for the ALS Association over the group’s embrace of embryonic stem cell research.  Instead, would-be bucketeers should send donations to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute.  Here’s a snippet from the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s story:

“We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in this,” Andriacco said. “But it’s a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit.”

An embryo must be destroyed to harvest its stem cells, Andriacco said. Many Catholics relate that to abortion.

The Archdiocese asks that any money raised is sent instead to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, where the research is only conducted using adult stem cells.

Rigg and Tom Otten, principal of Elder High School, plan to take the ice-bucket challenge — for the research institute — Thursday morning at Elder, Andriacco said.


The Archdiocese of Cincinnati releases a helpful FAQ to explain the decision:

What’s the problem with donating to the ALS Association?
Though the ALS Association does many good works towards the goal or treating and hopefully one day curing ALS, one of the methods they support is embryonic stem cell research. Catholic blogger and priest Father Michael Duffyreported that an email from the ALS Association to the Life League showed ALSA supports embryonic stem cell research.

The Archdiocese is not dissuading individual Catholics from making donations, but they are encouraged to be fully informed and make their own prudential judgments.The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has determined that its Catholic schools will not, as organizations, donate to that particular charity.

To quote St. John Paul II, “Any treatment which claims to save human lives, yet is based upon the destruction of human life in its embryonic state, is logically and morally contradictory, as is any production of human embryos for the direct or indirect purpose of experimentation or eventual destruction.”

What could Catholics do instead?
Raising awareness for diseases and ethical research for patient care and potential cures is a good thing and there’s no reason Catholic’s can’t participate. The key is making sure any donations, of challenges issued for others to donate, are directed toward places that participate in licit, morally responsible research.

An alternative to the ALS Association is the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. Though the institute is a secular non-profit, it chose to honor the late pope in its name to show its commitment to supporting a culture of life. The JP2MRI wrote on Twitter Aug. 20, “Over the past 5 days – The Institute has received 350 donations for $15,000 dollars. Thank you.”

Learn more about the John Paul II Medical Research Institute here.