Chicago Archdiocese Throws Cold Water on ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The concern rests with the use of embryonic stem cells for research, the Archdiocese says

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    NEWSLETTERS

    8/22/2014: The church supports ALS research, but not embryonic cell research. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

    Despite the huge popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the Archdiocese of Chicago is cautioning schools about the viral campaign.

    The concern rests with the use of embryonic stem cells for research. Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, the Archdiocese superintendent, has told the principals of the group's 248 schools to instead donate to the John Paul II Medical Research Center, which only uses adult stem cells, or Meals on Wheels.  

    McCaughey told NBC 5 the Archdiocese isn't against the challenge but wants funds restricted to make sure money doesn't go to embryonic research. 

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    "Ask that your funds be restricted to adult stem cell research," she said. "It's a very teachable moment to hold up the sanctity of life, the sanctity of life for the unborn and also the sanctity of life for these patients."

    Chicago’s ALS office said only a small part of the funding goes to embryonic stem cell research and said the Archdiocese decision is a disappointment.

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    "There are huge breakthroughs," said University of Chicago researcher Dr. Raymond Roos. "We still don't have an effective treatment or cure."
          
    The Superintendent of the Cincinnati Archdiocese Schools sent a letter to its principals to “immediately cease” any plans to raise funds for ALS. The National Catholic Bioethics Center weighed in as well, agreeing with the decision.

    On Thursday, however, the newspaper for the Archdiocese, Catholic New World, posted a story about St. John Brebeuf School teachers taking the challenge in front of the Niles school.

    "They did this in honor of friends, family and community members who have lost loved one to ALS. The teachers were led by Sandie Beierwaites who was challenged by a SJB graduate," the story reads.

    Principal Elise Matson is quoted as saying the challenge has helped "raise awareness and much-needed funds across the country to help fight this devastating disease."

    "Several of our SJB families have shared their stories with us about experiences with ALS," Matson said. "I am proud to join with the teacher to accept the challenge locally and do our part. We also offer our prayers and support to our extended family at SJB and throughout the Niles community. "

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