Des Moines Bishop Asks Parishes to Pray and Fast "in Reparation" for Sex Abuse Scandals
By Shelby Fleig
Des Moines Register
August 31, 2018
Des Moines Bishop Richard Pates has set aside four “special days” to honor the victims of sex abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church.
In response to a letter by Pope Francis condemning the abuse detailed in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report, Pates invited all local parishes to pray and fast each Friday in September. The call is meant to “encourage penitence for the sin of sexual abuse that has affected our Church, as well as the cover-up of this sin by Church leadership,” said Pates in a letter.
"We showed no care for the little ones," wrote Pope Francis nearly a week after the grand jury report was made public. "We abandoned them."
The Bishop invited all 80 parishes and 17 schools in the Diocese of Des Moines to participate. Pates will lead prayer services on Sept. 7 and and Sept. 14 at St. Ambrose Cathedral.
|A parishioner watches a video message delivered by Bishop of Scranton Joseph Bambera during the morning Mass at Our Lady of the Eucharist in Pittston, Pa., on Sunday, Aug, 20 2018. Bambera addressed the current charges of child abuse by clergy members in the Scranton Diocese and across the state. (Photo: Dave Scherbenco, AP)|
The best thing members of the Church can do, Pates wrote, is to “reflect individually, and collectively, about this issue that has deeply wounded the victims and their families, as well as parish communities, our faithful priests and bishops and the entire universal Church.”
He made further suggestions for individuals and families who cannot attend services, including specific readings and a weekly “quiet hour” at home.
The act of fasting, Pates’ letter states, “can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth.” The full letter can be read online.
"Our people sense that they want to do something," said Pates on Friday. "It's the most they can do, to pray and fast, which is recommended in the scriptures by Christ. People seem very positively receptive of it."
On the eve of his installation, Bishop Richard PatesBuy Photo
On the eve of his installation, Bishop Richard Pates visits with Christine Muriu of Des Moines after an evening prayer service at St. Ambrose Cathedral in 2008. (Photo: Register file photo)
Iowa dioceses have paid millions to settle sex abuse cases in the past two decades, the largest settlements happening over the course of years in Davenport and Dubuque.
The Pennsylvania grand jury report has lead other states to weigh investigations of local dioceses. But Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller does not have the authority, unlike his Pennsylvania counterpart, to launch a statewide investigative grand jury, said Lynn Hicks, the attorney general’s communications director.
Pates suspended a visiting priest from Ghana earlier this month following allegations of "issues related to unwelcome advances toward an adult female."
On the Des Moines diocese's website, victims are encouraged to reach out to victim assistance advocate Sam Porter, at 515-286-2015, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help filing complaints and getting counseling.