CINCINNATI — Chances are you’ve viewed at least one video this week of someone dumping a bucket of ice water over his head and challenging others to do the same.
The now-viral “ice-bucket challenge” was started by the ALS Association, a leader in funding research for prevention, treatment and an eventual cure of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative condition for which there are no proven treatments or cure.
But when Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, accepted the ice-bucket challenge Aug. 20, the archdiocese announced its donations would be going toward the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, rather than the originator of the challenge.
In a statement released Aug. 20, the archdiocese voiced concerns over the ALS Association’s support of embryonic stem-cell research, which requires the destruction of a human life.
“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,” it read.
“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.’”
The John Paul II Medical Research Institute (JP2MRI) is a secular nonprofit research institute “grounded in a pro-life bioethic that respects the dignity of every human life,” according to its website. It conducts research to advance technology to treat diseases such as ALS, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other more rare diseases.
A human embryo is a unique boy or girl from conception to eight weeks, with DNA, life-expectancy and the right to life, the Church teaches.
Stem cells are undifferentiated, primitive cells in the bone marrow that have the ability both to multiply and to differentiate into specific blood cells and other cell/tissue types. This ability allows them replace cells that have died, and they have been used to replace defective cells and/or tissues.
Embryonic stem-cell research, which involves the destruction of a unique human being in an attempt to cure different diseases, has proven not only destructive and costly, but has not produced a cure. Adult stem-cell research, which utilizes cells from adult tissues or umbilical cords, does not require the destruction of human life. It has proven successful in treating more than 70 kinds of cancers and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Pope John Paul II said that all research using stem cells from human embryos is “morally unacceptable.”
In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, John Paul said, “This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and fetuses — sometimes ‘produced’ for this purpose by in vitro fertilization — either to be used as ‘biological material’ or as providers of organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act.”
The JP2MRI wrote on Twitter Aug. 20, “Over the past 5 days, the institute has received 350 donations for $15,000 dollars. Thank you.”