In the Heartland With Bishop Pates: Seeking the Common Good

by Bishop Pates | December 3, 2018

Bishop Richard Pates

It seems nearly everyone is breathing a sigh of relief with the conclusion of the elections on Nov. 6.  The unfortunate negativity of contemporary political campaigns wears thin.  The repetitive advertising grows tedious.  The rhetoric divides rather than unites.

The new moment afforded by the cessation of political overload hopefully does not signal a return to stagnation.  May the opportunity inspire a commitment to the common good – seeking to benefit all God’s people.

The pursuit of the common good, in the present, pertains both to us in the Church as well as in secular society.


 The revelations of the grand jury report from Pennsylvania on clerical sexual abuse, while detailing a period of the past, is woefully discouraging.  Such behavior cannot be condoned.  Permanent reform must be undertaken.

 In confronting the scourge, the recurrent trauma of the victims needs to be addressed.  Essential to the healing process is a listening posture, counseling/therapy opportunity and bottomless compassion that will move those hurt to the eventual road of wholeness.

 The evolution in the Church in the understanding of pedophilia led to the 2002 adoption of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”  This move over subsequent years has eventuated in a dramatic decrease by Church personnel in sexual abuse of minors.  It has virtually flat lined.  We are grateful for the extensive, preventative steps that have been taken.

 Encouraged by the positive reform achieved over the past 16 years, we now must boldly attend to the next stage with regard to Church leadership and bishops in their transparency and accountability.  Such is possible and with appropriate determination can be achieved.

 In the meanwhile, we are called to engage in the primary mission of the Church, in the marvel of participation in the sacramental life and prayer in our parishes and institutions of the Diocese of Des Moines.  When we highlight and dedicate ourselves to these central dimensions of divine life, we are blessed indeed in experiencing the common good.


 On the basis of being initiated into his very life through Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, Jesus challenges us to be light and salt to the world.  Remarkably, this means God lives in and through us!

 The new moment after the election, calls us to refocus on the witness we are expected to bring to our times.  Can we be instrumental in pursuing the common good and giving credibility to God’s love and justice for all his children?

 The basis for our action rests in the respect for the gift of human life from the moment of conception throughout every phase of its experience until natural death.

 Setting aside political divisions, we adopt a positive expression of our Catholic/Christian commitment to the sacredness of life.  A fundamental principle guiding our action is the vision of Pope Francis.  “We are all one human family.  We are all brothers and sisters.”

 In our service to our brothers and sisters, might the common good entail the following?

  •  Attending to the plight of refugees and immigrants by addressing the root causes responsible for their leaving their native countries and in the United States finally enacting comprehensive immigration reform?
  •  Confronting racism and giving life to the reality that all God’s children are equal?
  •  Cherishing the gift of creation by our engagement with the rhythm of nature and not trashing the precious elements that sustain life and its quality?
  • Sharing the world’s goods intended for all and maintaining the dignity of our fellow humans by ensuring work, decent housing, eliminating hunger, providing adequate healthcare, fighting poverty and maintaining peace?

 The new moment is an opportunity to move beyond that which has been debilitating, hypocritical and squandered into the sunshine of the common good.  A renewed beginning point might be what President George H.W. Bush described as a kinder, gentler nation.

Bishop Pates

Since his installation on May 29, 2008, Bishop Pates' priorities have been to build up an inviting vocation culture, reach out to newcomers and the Spanish-speaking community, educate and experience evangelization, and to engage youth and young adults as vibrant and valued members of the faith community.