The Catholic Diocese of Des Moines installed it’s ninth bishop Thursday in Des Moines. Sixty-five-year-old Richard Pates is taking over for Bishop Joseph Charron, who retired for health reasons. Pates came to Des Moines from St. Paul, Minnesota, and showed a sense of humor in his introductory remarks.
“It is a great consolation to me that I come to the Church Des Moines as its ninth bishop. Such lengthy genealogy provides prospective,” Pates says, “my predecessor bishops, each in his unique way has made a difference. And even if I shall blow it badly, the Diocese will go on. The tenth, eleventh and twelfth bishops will just have to work a little harder.”
Pates turned serious in his homily, addressing many familiar issues of the church. He talked about the importance of a husband and wife fulfilling the Sacrament of Marriage, and about respect for life. Pates says all of us can trace our existence to the creating hand of God, and each of us is called to “protect, nurture, and enhance the precious gift of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.”
Pates discussed the impact of immigrants in the state. “We insist that all are guaranteed the basic human rights of food, education, healthcare, security, work, freedom of religious practice,” Pates says, “we not only welcome but accept the enriching presence of newcomers among us. For us in this part of Iowa, it means placing the welcome mat out for Latinos, Sudanese, those from Asian nations and other parts of Latin America.” Pate says change is not always easy to accept.
Pates says, “The changing face of this state and diocese, the influx of Hispanics and other immigrants, the consequences and the costs of sexual abuse, the tension of economic hardship, all these raise fear, even despair for some, certainly the anxieties that always come with change.” Pates says the fears of change may have some questioning their faith. Pates says the diocese needs to embrace the changes.
“We need to leave behind our anger, our divisions, our hard and embittered feelings, our grudges,” Pates says. “Being Irish, I can tell you all about grudges, I can also tell you of the liberation, the exhilaration of being freed when I let grudges go. Equally liberating is experiencing the forgiveness and the dropping of grudges others have held against me.” Pates sat in the same chair used by Pope John Paul the second during the Pope’s visit to Iowa in 1979. The Des Moines Diocese covers 23 counties in central and southwest Iowa, serving around 97,000 people in 82 parishes.