As you likely know, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been sweeping the world for the past several weeks, raising money for research to find a cure for this horrible disease. Something like 60 MILLION dollars has been donated to the ALS Association as a result of this social media campaign and the frenzy it has produced.
Now, make no mistake about it, this is a worthy cause and an incredibly debilitating and fatal disease. Finding a cure for it is something that we should all be able to rally behind – as we should for any human affliction that is causing suffering, death, and pain to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And I can speak from experience, having had the father of one of my dear friends pass away from the disease at a young age, missing out on the chance to watch his grandchildren come into this world and grow up.
However, even the pursuit of a worthy cause must be done in a holy way – which is where the true “challenge” of the Ice Bucket Challenge comes into play.
At the time I completed the challenge with my family – I was unaware of one critical piece of information regarding how the ALSA conducts its research. Had I know this information at the time, I would have given serious thought to doing the challenge at all – and at the very least would have vocalized my opinion on my video as to where any money should be donated.
Here is what I have recently learned – ALSA uses at least a portion of the research money it raises to fund embryonic stem cell research – a form of research that ALWAYS results in the ending of an embryonic life.
As a Catholic mother, and a very pro-life one at that, the loss of ANY life causes my heart to ache – no matter what stage of development that person was in. However, this particular form of destruction bothers me on 2 levels – first and foremost, we MUST protect all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death – it is simply what God calls us to do. And second, embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce any truly promising results, while its counterpart – adult stem cell research – has already shown much success and promise in a number of areas – all WITHOUT the loss of life associated with embryonic research.
So, what is a concerned Catholic to do? Just say no to the Ice Bucket Challenge? Maybe…but I propose a second option. Go ahead and complete the challenge, film it and post it ALL over social media – with one, small change.
In your video, instead of saying that you are donating money to ALSA, say that you are donating your money to the John Paul II Research Institute – which is conducting promising research into ALS and other diseases in a morally upright and wholly Catholic way – and challenge your friends to do the same!
You might even say that you are doing it to protect the innocent lives lost to embryonic stem cell research, or at least as a way to uphold your Catholic morals and beliefs.
Ending disease and curbing suffering are morally upright and holy things to be doing – but we have to make sure we are doing them in a morally upright and holy way! So be sure to think before you donate – whether it be to ALS or any other organization. The cause may be just, but the means may not.
FINAL NOTE: I had not gotten around to making my donation yet – so my money WILL be going to the JPII Research Institute!