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."
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."