Respect Life Apostolate

Respect Life Apostolate

The Respect Life Apostolate (RLA) promotes the Catholic Church’s teachings on respect for and legal protection of every human life from conception to natural death by coordinating educational, spiritual, pastoral, and public policy advocacy efforts with particular focus on those issues in the culture that threaten life - abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and unethical advances in scientific technology.

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Latest News

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Embryonic Stem Cells

Doing the Challenge

News anchors, movie celebrities, professional sports teams, teachers, kids.  We've probably all seen by now the viral videos of individuals taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.   Concerns about the research supported by the ALS Association have left some Catholics concerned. Here is a quick overview.

What is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?
The challenge involves recording yourself accepting the challenge, dumping a bucket of ice water on your head, and challenging others by name to do it as well.  Typically, those who accept the challenge donate $10 to the ALS Association; those who decline donate $100.   According to the ALS Association, from July 29 to Aug 20, it has received $31.5 million in donations (compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year). 

What's the Problem with Donating to ALS Association?
Certainly, individuals suffering with ALS as well as their family and friends deserve our support and prayers for healing. We encourage all to continue supporting everyone who is suffering or in spiritual, physical, or financial need. The Church supports all morally licit efforts towards a better understanding of and treatment for ALS.

There is concern, however, that the money being donated to the ALS Association may be used for embryonic stem cell research.  In a July 2, 2014 email from ALS Association to the American Life League, ALS stated that while it primarily funds studies utilizing adult stem cells, it is funding one study using embryonic stem cells and that it may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future. 

Embryonic stem cell research is always morally objectionable because a human person must be destroyed to harvest his or her stem cells.  As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated: "The use of embryonic stem cells or differentiated cells derived from them - even when these are provided by other researchers through destruction of embryos or when such cells are commercially available - presents serious problems from the standpoint of cooperation in evil and scandal."  (Dignitas personae, no. 32).

Alternatives for Catholics
There is nothing immoral about raising awareness for diseases and ethical research towards curing diseases; there is no reason Catholics can't participate. The key, however, is to ensure that donations from participation are being utilized to support morally licit research.

As an alternative to the ALS Association, Catholics may wish to donate to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. The Institute is a secular, non-profit organization and chooses to engage in medical research that honors and respects the dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death. More information on the John Paul II Institute is available here.

Donations can be by clicking here or checks can be sent to:

John Paul II Medical Research Institute
540 E. Jefferson St., Suite 202
Iowa City, IA 52245

Helpers of God's Precious Infants Welcomes Crossroads Walkers!


Crossroads walkers pose for a photo with the Cathedral birthday cake

The Respect Life Apostolate and the Archdiocese of St. Louis was thrilled to welcome a team of Crossroads walkers for the Helpers of God's Precious Infants on July 19.  These young adults, from around the country, joined numerous others from around the Archdiocese in Mass at the Cathedral Basilica, followed by a peaceful rosary procession to Planned Praenthood, and ending with Benediction at the Cathedral. 

Crossroads walkers are college students, or recent college graduates, who volunteer their summer to build the Culture of Life by walking across the country and speaking to groups wherever they go.  This team started their walk in San Francisco on May 24 and will arrive in Washington, D.C. on August 16 to join in a pro-life rally at the Capitol Building.   Please pray for the safety and for the ministry of these young adults and all Crossroads walkers as they continue on to Indianpolis!

Founded in 1995, Crossroads was founded as a response to St. John Paul II's call to the youth of the world to actively establish a Culture of Life.  Every summer, young adults, aged 18-30, walk across the country to Washington, D.C., hoping to convert the hearts and minds of others through their witness.  The walkers offer up prayes and their hardships for an end to the culture of death.  In addition, the walkers speak to parish groups to encourage pro-life activism in their communities.  This summer there are four walks.  To learn more about Crossroads, click here.

2014 Creative Writing Contest Awards Assembly

On Tuesday, April 29th, more than 100 finalists and their parents packed into the Fleur de Lis Room at the Cardinal Rigali Center for the Respect Life Apostolate's 2014 8th grade Creative Writing Contest. The finalists were chosen from a total of 1,122 students who submitted essays for consideration.

This year, thanks to the generosity of the Knights of Columbus, the Respect Life Apostolate was able to award an additional scholarship to the existing four scholarships, bringing the total number of scholarships to five. Five honorable mention candidates also received prizes. The scholarships will go towards part of the student's first-year high school tuition at a Catholic High School within the Archdiocese. The names of the winners are below. Click on a student's name to read their essay.

Bishop Edward O'Donnell Scholarship

Daniel Reardon, St. Clement of Rome (DeSmet Jesuit High School)
Principal – Mrs. Sue Cunningham
Pastor – Msgr. James Pieper

Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship

Dakota Nelsen, St. Gianna Home School Co-op (John Paul II Preparatory School)
Director - Katie Giandinoto
Pastor – Fr. Timothy Elliott

Mr. and Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship

Larissa O'Shea, St. Monica (St. Joseph's Academy)
Principal – Mrs. Kathy Hunt
Pastor – Msgr. John Brenell

Keith Beckmann, St. Cletus (St. Dominic High School)
Principal – Ms. Rosann Doherty
Pastor – Fr. James Benz

Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship

Hector Rivera, Christ Light of the Nations [Parish: Our Lady of the Rosary] (Chaminade)
Principal – Sr. Mary Lawrence
Pastor – Fr. Thomas Haley

Honorable Mention Students

Elise Olwig, St. Gabriel the Archangel School (Nerinx Hall)
Daniel Newman, St. Charles Borromeo School (St. Charles West or CBC)
Sydney England, St. Paul Fenton School (Cor Jesu Academy)
Addison Estes, John Paul II Prep [Parish: St. Alban Roe] (John Paul II Prep)
Isabelle Honigfort, John Paul II Prep [Parish: St. Stephen, Richwood, MO] (John Paul II Prep)

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