An auxiliary Bishop from the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota was named today at the new Bishop of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese.
Bishop Richard Pates will be installed in May. "I am ever so grateful to his holiness, Pope Benedict the 16th, for appointing me as the ninth bishop of DesMoines," Pates said,"It is a welcome privilege to be called to serve such a vibrant spirited community in the heartland of America."
Pates is replacing Bishop Joseph Charron who announced one year ago that he was retiring due to health reasons. Pates says his initial priority will be getting to know the community, and says he looks forward to visiting the 82 parishes and the 23 counties in southwestern Iowa.
Pates says he never sought to climb the church ladder and become a bishop. He says finding out he would become an auxiliary bishop in 2000 was something of a surprise. Pates says his immediate response was that he was very happy as the founding pastor of a new parish in Woodbury Minnesota and were just completing the new church. "Starting a new parish is one of the most exhilarating experiences that you can have, and I had really enjoyed it," Pates says. He says he told church officials he was really happy and wanted to keep doing what he was doing.
But, Pates says he has always gone where he was called to go, and became the auxiliary bishop serving Minneapolis and St. Paul. Pates was asked about how he will handle the so-called hot button issues like abortion and stem-cell research. Pates says, "First of all I think that we have to enter into a dialogue about them and to get them to an opportunity so we can really try to get to the bottom of what are the principles that govern our understanding and the approach that we take. Because I think we’re in very strong opposing camps."
Pates says one example is stem-cell research. He says the Catholic Church is not against stem-cell research, but is against embyronic stem cell research that takes life. Pates says we need to go down the avenue that we can all agree upon to see the benefit that can occur and allow all of society to take advantage of the research and allow people to get well. Pates says abortion is another issue where there needs to be discussion.
"We very simply say that life begins at the moment of conception, that it doesn’t end until natural death, that in the meanwhile we have the responsibility from each of those moments to preserve and enhance life, and the dignity of life," Pates says, "and if we work together to achieve that then I think we will really be following the lead of our own Declaration of Independence, ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ and we can really operate fully as a community in achieving our ends."
Pate says it is important to address the issues in meaningful way. "But I think it’s very important that we don’t just throw slogans back and forth," Pates says, "that we really get to an in-depth discussion and dialogue, because I think people have really dug in and sometimes we don’t have the respect and discussion that we should have and the opportunity really to come together in preservation of those vales that are so very important and central to our lives."
Pates is 65 years old and will be installed as the Bishop of the Des Moines Diocese on May 29th. The Des Moines Diocese serves approximately 97,000 people in central and southwest Iowa.