Pittsburgh bishop throws cold water on ALS group, which uses embryonic stem cells |

Pittsburgh bishop throws cold water on ALS group, which uses embryonic stem cells

Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is taking the ice bucket challenge to help find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease, but he is giving a cold shoulder to the ALS Association, the usual beneficiary.

We are aware of the ALS Association and how it uses — at least in one of its areas of research — embryonic stem cells,” said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the diocese.

Lengwin said the bishop intends to make a donation to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, which “uses a variety of adult stem cells to find cures and therapies for various diseases,” he said. “They do not engage in embryonic stem cell research of any kind.”

He declined to say how much the bishop was contributing.

The superintendent of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati discouraged schools from taking part in the popular fundraiser unless they gave the money raised to groups that fight ALS without using embryonic stem cells.

Lengwin said the church opposes research using embryonic stem cells because they’re “used with part of the destruction of life, often with a child that has been aborted.”

The ALS Association said it supports a study using embryonic stem cells but said donors can require that their gifts go elsewhere.

The bishop is taking part on behalf of the Rev. Dennis Colamarino, pastor of Christ the Light of the World Parish and St. Joseph’s parishes in Duquesne. Colamarino was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS, a neurodegenerative disease, a year ago. About 30,000 Americans have the disease.

After an 11 a.m. Mass on Saturday at Holy Name Church of Christ the Light of the World Parish, police will close South First Street in Duquesne, and Zubik and Colamarino will be doused with ice and water.

“I see this as an opportunity to give back some of the love and support that I have received over the last 15 months,” Colamarino said in a prepared statement.

The ice bucket challenge has been a popular fundraiser for the ALS Association — attracting former President George W. Bush, celebrities and athletes, among others, to take the plunge. Between July 29 and Aug. 21, the association received $41.8 million in donations compared with $2.1 million during the same period last year, according to its website.

Thus far, “Team Father Dennis” has collected more than $20,000.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.