Catholic Church warns against ALS Association donations

Catholics in Cincinnati are advising against donations to the ALS Association

Published 27 August 2014  |  

The Cincinnati Archdiocese in Ohio is warning Catholic school principals against donations to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association. 

This warning comes after the ALS's Ice Bucket Challenge went global bringing in more than $80 million in a campaign to raise awareness for the condition.

ALS, also known as Motor Neurone Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease affecting nerve cells in both the brain and the spinal cord. The Ice Bucket Challenge, supporting the campaign, has become a pop culture and social media phenomenon. 

Social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram are riddled with videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. They then challenge others to follow suit within the next 24 hours, and those who reject the challenge are encouraged to donate $100 to an ALS charity. 

However, the Catholic Church has its concerns about the destination of these donations. 

The Cincinatti Archdiocese has warned the pro-life community and Ohio Catholic schools to be wary when participating in the challenge as there is a chance donations made to the ALSA may end up contributing to embryonic stem cell research.

The ALSA has confirmed it supports research involving the destruction of embryos to find cures for the disease, according to Life News. Specifically, Life News reports that the ALSA supports the Northeast ALS Consortium, a clinical researcher. 

Carrie Munk, a spokeswoman for the ALSA, confirmed in an email to Religion News Service, that the ALSA primarily funds stem cell research.

Munk stated: "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); this research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research. The project is in its final phase and will come to an end very soon." 

Catholic Church officials are encouraging pro-lifers to select a "pro-life-friendly" alternative when participating in the challenge. 

The Independent reported that the Cincinatti Archdiocese had asked the principals of more than 100 Ohio Catholic schools to stop donations to the ALSA and instead give donations to a "morally ilicit" organisation. 

The Catholic Church holds that embryonic stem cell research is harmful to the sanctity of human life, however, it does not condemn adult stem cell research. 

Dan Andriacco, the Cincinnati Archdiocese spokesperson, said that although the campaign is for a good cause "the means to that end must be morally elicit".

"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."

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