This post is my bulletin column for this week.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Some years ago, it was popular to do the “ice bucket challenge” in order to raise funds for ALS, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Many of my friends on social media were taking up the challenge, and I knew that, sooner or later, the challenge would fall to me. So I did my research, and found that the ALS Foundation supports research based on embryonic stem cell research, which is fetal tissue left over from aborted babies. So I wrote a bulletin column (at my last parish) entitled, “Why I Won’t Ever Take the Ice Bucket Challenge” and instead made a donation to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute (jp2mri.org) which researches cures for diseases, including ALS, using Catholic teaching with regard to Respect for Life.
Some years before that, I considered shaving my head for Saint Baldrick’s which researches cures for pediatric cancer. Doing my research for that charity, I found that they specifically did not support embryonic stem cell research, because the majority of their donors asked them not to. So our witness, does in fact make a difference. Before that research, I was leaning toward not shaving my head, but finding it in concert with Catholic teaching, and after receiving a note from one of my young parishioners who had survived cancer, I gladly supported them, and yes, shaved my head!
What we are finding is that we don’t need to abort babies to cure disease. The fact is, there are other very successful research projects which are finding their success without using embryonic stem cell research. It is our responsibility as pro-life Catholics to support them so that there will be more of them.
This all came back to me because of the popularity of “Movember,” in which men grow moustaches and collect funds in support of men’s health, specifically testicular and prostate cancer, and suicide prevention. All laudable causes, but in the case of the cancers, somewhat debatable as well (talk to your doctor). I couldn’t find any information on their stand on embryonic stem cell research so I decided not to support them. Instead, I’ll make a donation to the JPII Medical Research Center. If you’re wanting to get on the moustache bandwagon, you might consider the Nazarite Challenge (nazaritechallenge.com), which focuses on making us all better men (and, they have a women’s track as well).
I want you to think about this when you’re invited to give to the Pink Ribbon campaign or the Susan Komen Walk for the Cure, which have questionable records on supporting embryonic stem cell research, and in the case of the Komen Walk, have a relationship with Planned Parenthood. Both of my parents have suffered from cancer – we all know someone who has – and I support research to end the scourge of that disease. But the point is, we have to do our research as Catholics. We absolutely must support research to end disease, but we have to do it with fidelity to our pro-life teachings. And the really awesome thing is, we can.
Yours in Christ and His Blessed Mother,
Father Pat Mulcahy, Pastor