Archdiocese calls for redirecting ice bucket proceeds to research institutes compatible with Catholic teaching on life

Funds raised from this ice-bucket dump yesterday go to the JPII Medical Research Institute, not ALS Association. Superintendent of Catholic Schools Jim Rigg, right, and Elder Principal Tom Otten take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Thursday, Aug. 21. Their donations will go to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)

Go ahead and let Catholic school kids dump ice water on their heads, the Cincinnati Archdiocese has told Catholic school principals; just don’t send proceeds raised at your school to the association which funds research using embryonic stem cells. That’s the gist of the statement reported from the spokesman for the Archdiocese about the social media video phenomenon that challenges people to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads or donate to the ALS Association (funding research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). The Archdiocese is calling for contributions to be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which conducts research using only adult stem cells–a morally acceptable research option as embryonic stem cells can only be obtained by destroying embryonic life. Catholic teaching calls for the protection of all human life, no matter the stage of development. 

To demonstrate the point in showing support for those suffering from ALS while at the same time upholding Catholic principles protecting human life, Archdiocese of Cincinnati Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Jim Rigg, took part in the ice bucket challenge yesterday at Elder High School (Cincinnati) along with its principal. Check out the video which was posted on the Archdiocesan web site. It was clearly stated that proceeds will be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute to fight ALS.

According to the Archdiocese’s on-line newspaper, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was the center of some media controversy last week after an email from Rigg to Catholic school principals on this issue was leaked to the press. 

“Contrary to some media reports, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati had not forbidden schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge for ALS. Rather, Rigg instructed schools to make sure any donations raised went to morally licit charitable organizations,” the Archdiocesan newspaper report states. 

“We support efforts that are in line with our principals as Catholics to end that devestating medical condition,” Rigg told the assembled media at Elder last week, the Catholic Telegraph reports. “However, as schools, we have to ensure that all of our efforts are reflective of our principles, including the belief in the sanctity of life. The John Paul II Medical Research Institute reflects these principles. They’ll be the recipients of these funds here today.”

The ALS Association has raised more than $30 million through the “ice bucket challenge” since late July, including funds from 637,527 new donors to the association. By comparison, the organization received just $1.9 million in donations for the same time period last year. The funds support the organization’s mission of pursuing research, treatment and care for the disease better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. How did the bucket challenge originate? Check this link to find out.

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Categories: Blog for Catholic Apptitude

Author:Jennifer Kane

Content Evangelist, Jennifer Kane, is a secular Carmelite (OCDS), wife, mother, grandmother who worked for more than 30 years in marketing/communications which included 20 years in radio broadcasting including news director. She holds degrees in Journalism/Communication (BA) and English (MA) from St. Bonaventure University. In 2016 she authored the Vatican application for minor basilica status for The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Olean, New York. Pope Francis granted that title in 2017. Research on the basilica formed the basis of her history book, A Place Set Apart. She previously authored the book, A Worthy and Capable Clergyman, the second part of the history book in a slightly different format. She is founder and editor of the website,, the #1 English language website cataloging/reviewing Catholic apps for mobile devices.

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