Participants tip buckets of ice water over their heads as they take part in the World Record Ice Bucket Challenge at Etihad Stadium on August 22, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.
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Cincinnati Archdiocese throws cold water on Ice Bucket Challenge

Not everyone wants to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge. President Obama and Vice President Biden, for example, have both demurred. Due to rules related to public officials and fundraising campaigns, diplomats and active-duty U.S. troops aren’t supposed to partake in the campaign, either.
This Associated Press report, however, presented an angle I hadn’t considered.
A Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association, citing its funding of research involving embryonic stem cells.
In a letter sent Tuesday to its 113 schools, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s superintendent of Catholic schools says the research being funded is “in direct conflict with Catholic teaching.”
Apparently, the schools can participate in the challenge in a general sense, but they’re not supposed to support the ALS Association, which started the campaign to raise money and awareness about the fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
The AP report added this quote from diocese spokesman Dan Andriacco: “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. But it’s a well-established moral principle that not only the ends be good, but the means must be good, too.”
And in this case, because the “means” might include research on embryonic stem cells, the Cincinnati Archdiocese doesn’t want schools contributing to the ALS Association.
I knew there were some political/policy angles to the Ice Bucket Challenge, but I’ll confess, I didn’t see this one coming.
Abby Ohlheiser’s report added
The anti-abortion group American Life League keeps a running tally of organizations that do and don’t support embryonic research, based on the League’s belief that embryonic stem cell research is comparable to abortion. The ALS Association earned a “red” rating from the group, which means that the American Life League does “not consider the organization worthy of support from pro-lifers.”
That’s because the association funds a single study using embryonic stem cells, mainly through the funds of a single donor. In a statement to the American Life League, ALS Association spokesperson Carrie Munk said that donors are able to specify whether they want their funds to support embryonic stem cell research or not.
The negative rating caught the attention of Patheos blogger Fr. Michael F. Duffy, who wrote a post last Thursday about “The Moral Problem with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”
“While I can’t donate to the ALS Association,” Duffy wrote, “I will certainly pray for those that suffer from this disease.”
It’s not yet clear whether other archdioceses will follow the lead of Catholic leaders in Cincinnati.