Ohio diocese discourages ALS ice bucket challenge
by Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press
August 21, 2014 01:35 PM | 742 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Major League Baseball Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred participates in the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge outside the organization's headquarters in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Manfred participated with more than 160 other MLB employees to raise more than $16,000 for the ALS Association. (AP Photo/Vanessa A. Alvarez)
Major League Baseball Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred participates in the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge outside the organization's headquarters in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Manfred participated with more than 160 other MLB employees to raise more than $16,000 for the ALS Association. (AP Photo/Vanessa A. Alvarez)
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Debbie Wallace, center, dumps a bucket of ice water on her head along with her coworkers as they participate in an Ice Bucket Challenge at the Woodruff Institute in Naples, FL on Tuesday, August 19, 2014. Wallace, a physician assistant at Woodruff, lost her brother Chester to ALS two weeks before and challenged her coworkers in the challenge. The Ice Bucket challenge began on social media on July 29 to benefit ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Participants dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, record it and nominate someone else to do the same. If the person nominated doesn’t comply or fails to record their video within 24 hours, they must donate cash to benefit ALS research. Between July 29 and Aug. 16, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received $11.4 million in donations. (AP Photo/Naples Daily News, Scott McIntyre)
Debbie Wallace, center, dumps a bucket of ice water on her head along with her coworkers as they participate in an Ice Bucket Challenge at the Woodruff Institute in Naples, FL on Tuesday, August 19, 2014. Wallace, a physician assistant at Woodruff, lost her brother Chester to ALS two weeks before and challenged her coworkers in the challenge. The Ice Bucket challenge began on social media on July 29 to benefit ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Participants dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, record it and nominate someone else to do the same. If the person nominated doesn’t comply or fails to record their video within 24 hours, they must donate cash to benefit ALS research. Between July 29 and Aug. 16, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received $11.4 million in donations. (AP Photo/Naples Daily News, Scott McIntyre)
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Brenau University’s Makenzi Wooten, left, drenches Kaylynn Samples as they both take the ALS ice bucket challenge at the school’s amphitheater in Gainesville, Ga. The challenge is raising funds for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. (AP Photo/The Times, Scott Rogers)
Brenau University’s Makenzi Wooten, left, drenches Kaylynn Samples as they both take the ALS ice bucket challenge at the school’s amphitheater in Gainesville, Ga. The challenge is raising funds for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. (AP Photo/The Times, Scott Rogers)
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CINCINNATI (AP) — A Roman Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its 113 schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association, saying the group's funding of embryonic stem cell research is "in direct conflict with Catholic teaching."

Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, told the schools in a letter Tuesday to "immediately cease" any plans to raise funds for the association or to instead direct donations to another organization that combats ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease that causes paralysis and almost certain death.

The Catholic Church relates the use of embryonic stem cells in research to abortion and says it violates the sanctity of human life. The use of adult stem cells in research is not forbidden by Catholic teaching.

"We certainly appreciate the compassion that has caused people all over the country, certainly including many Catholics, to be interacting and engaging in a fun way to support ALS research," diocese spokesman Dan Adriacco said Thursday. "But it's a well-established moral principle that not only the ends be good, but the means must be good, too."

The diocese said schools could participate in the ice bucket challenge, but any money raised should be directed to groups like the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which conducts "pro-life driven" research, according to its website.

Carrie Munk, a spokeswoman for the ALS Association, said her group largely funds adult stem-cell research but does fund one study involving embryonic stem cells using money from one specific donor.

She said all donors to the ALS Association can stipulate where their money goes and can ask that it not pay for embryonic stem cell research.

The group hasn't heard of any other Catholic dioceses in the country recommending against donating to the group, Munk said.

Adriacco said the Cincinnati diocese's superintendent wrote his directive to the schools after consulting with the Catholic Conference of Ohio. The Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center affirmed the decision Thursday, he said.

Spokespeople for both groups didn't immediately return calls for comment Thursday.

Don Clemmer, a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that the group views the Cincinnati diocese's actions as "a local matter" and that his organization has not issued any directives to its bishops discouraging donations to the ALS Association.

Since the ice bucket challenge took over the Internet, the ALS Association received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 to Thursday. That's compared to $2.1 million in the same time period last year.

Munk said the association is amazed by the wave of donations.

"I guess the most remarkable thing about this ice bucket challenge is the level of visibility it has brought to this disease," she said. "The dollars are incredible, but people are talking about ALS now, they're talking about research, they're talking about patients and their families. It's really so incredibly valuable."

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