2016 May 3, – FC’s “We need to talk” Email to Bishop Pates

——— Forwarded message ———-

From: Frank Cordaro <frank.cordaro@gmail.com>

To: Bishop Richard Pates <bishop@dmdiocese.org>, Bishop Richard Pates <rpates@dmdiocese.org>

cc 27 priest – most from DM Diocese… including members of the Priest Presbyteral Council


Pope Francis’ Three Words to Regenerative Medicine Conference, by Diane Montagna, Aleteia, April 29, 2016



The pope first counseled participants to make known the problem … countering a “globalization of indifference” with a “globalization of empathy,” invest in scientific research, both academic and industrial, which pays “constant attention to moral issues in order to be a tool for protecting life and the dignity of the human person.”… increase access … by opposing “an economy of exclusion and inequality,” where profit prevails over the value of human life.

What the Pope is asking of people in the medical world, I am asking you about the global corporate industrial food system you give our Diocese’s official blessings.


To Bishop Richard Pates

Diocese of Des Moines


Dear Bishop Pates,


We need to talk …

I want to talk about your unquestioning public support of corporate agriculture.

In Oct of 2013 when Cardinal Turkson was in Des Moines as a keynote speaker for the World Food Prize, he went out of his way (and yours) to make room on his schedule to speak at our Occupy the World Food Prize event plus set aside an hour to speak and listen to our OWFP leadership. Cardinal Turkson was clear regarding his purpose in accepting OWFP’s invitation to speak.

“[Cardinal Turkson] attended a small meeting with farmers and local activists organized by Occupy the World Food Prize, a group opposed to what organizers call corporate control over agricultural production and to this year’s winners in particular. And today he will speak at a luncheon organized by the World Food Prize as part of the Borlaug Dialogue series … “I’ll refrain from demonizing anyone. Not one group, not another group,” he said during the meeting. “I’ll rather seek to fashion openings which would allow us to talk, negotiate, convince.”


October 17, 2013 – “Ghana cleric attends Occupy meeting” by Regina Zilbermints, Des Moines Register


Though we met in a Methodist Church, there were many Catholics represented in the 60 who listened in, while 8 OWFP representatives had an hour-long dialogue with Cardinal Turskon. I could not help but notice that most of the Catholics in that room belonged to four Catholic lead groups or organizations that you have systematically shunned in the Diocese of Des Moines. They are Citizens for Community Improvement, Catholic Peace Ministry, the Des Moines Catholic Worker and the Des Moines Intentional Eucharistic Community.


[see “Iowa farmers talk with the Vatican’s Cardinal Turkson” (25 min) https://vimeo.com/78214941%5D

CCI http://www.iowacci.org

CPM http://dingman.catholicpeaceministry.com/

DMIEC http://www.dmiec.org/

By October 2014 you had visited Gaza and another World Food Prize was given. Yet, no change in your self-distancing from Citizens for Community Improvement, Catholic Peace Ministry, the Des Moines Catholic Worker and the Des Moines Intentional Eucharistic Community. In fact, you personally and therefore, officially gave the Des Moines Catholic Diocese’s blessings to the World Food Prize and its corporate owners. I wrote and posted my criticism of your leadership in my October 27, 2014 article” The Problem with Bishop Pates and the US Catholic Bishops”



And still no response from you; the shunning continues …

Another year, another World Food Prize. In 2015, the recipient was Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s organization BRAC, which is the world’s largest NGO! A worthy charity for sure but no critic of corporate agriculture. I addressed the issue of corporate charity vs. food justice in an October 5 new release: “Bread alone is not enough: A Corporate World Food Prize to a Corporate World Charity Does Not Equal Food Justice”



I was hoping the Pope’s mentioning of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton in his speech to the U.S. Congress in September, 2015 would be cause for some softening of your shunning of the Des Moines Catholic Worker.


But by September 2015 any doubts I might have had that you were not entirely in Corporate Ag’s camp were dispelled when I read in the September 2015 issue of the Catholic Mirror that you personally delivered a letter from Catherine Swoboda of St. Ambrose in Des Moines to Pope Francis asking the Pope to visit Iowa during his September U.S. visit. Clearly, Catherine Swoboda is the kind of Catholic that you believe worthy enough to lift up to the Pope to invite the Pope to the Des Moines Diocese. She works for the World Food Prize! The Mirror article also said you handed the Pope two local Iowa Catholics’ letters of endorsement of the idea of the Pope stopping in Iowa. The two Catholics you chose to represent Iowa? Governor Branstad and Kenneth Quinn! (CEO of the World Food Prize).

“Des Moines Woman Invites Pope Francis to visit Iowa during trip to US”



Why are Catherine Swoboda, Gov. Branstad and Kenneth Quinn, with their Corporate Industrial Ag careers and connections, the only Iowa Catholics Farm related worthy of the Pope’s attention, with your personal endorsement?

We need to talk because I don’t understand how you can support the very people and Corporate Ag interests that Bishop Dingman so publicly confronted and called to be just back in the 1980s.



We need to talk because by September 2015 your attention to the Des Moines Catholic Worker community was of a completely different kind.

In a May 5, 2015 letter to the DMCW community addressed to me, you put our community on notice that the privilege to celebrate Catholic Mass at the DMCW had been revoked because we reported in our December 2014 community newspaper, Via Pacis, “that Rev. Janice Sevre-Dusynska attempted a Mass at the Catholic Worker House on Dec. 12, 2014 … This matter has been reviewed by the Presbyteral Council … members expressed great offense at this action of a rite that is so precious to them and others. They unanimously approved … that the (Mass) privilege be revoked”



I did not open the letter until my return from a two-month visit to Jeju Island, where I stood in solidarity with the Catholic-led Save Jeju Now campaign. We celebrated Mass and prayed the Rosary every day at the main gate of a Korean/U.S. Navy base. The contrast between my experience of Eucharist on Jeju Island and what you and the Presbyteral Council were brining to the DMCW was stark and painful.



But, in a year of great surprises our DMCW community rose to your challenge. In many ways your letter pushed us to explore lost traditions and history of communal prayer and liturgies. We did two things:

  1. In August 2015 the community posted a “Statement by the Des Moines Catholic Worker in Support of Women’s Ordination and Open Communion”



  1. In September at the annual Sugar Creek Midwest Catholic Worekr gathering, DMCW community made public our invitation to Fr. Roy Bourgeois to be our keynote speaker and Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska to be celebrant for the Sunday liturgy at our DMCW 40th Anniversary celebration, August 26-28, 2016.



On August 25, the Des Moines Register ran the story “No Mass for Catholic group after woman performs service” by Kim Norvell. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/B88Anzo86kA

In this article I was quoted as saying “It’s really a bullying position that doesn’t do the Eucharist service. I wish our bishops would see their teaching authority in a more positive light than when people disagree with them, (to) punish them.”

When asked on August 28, 2015 in an Iowa Public Radio interview why you revoked Mass privileges from the DMCW you said, “You know the Diocese and as well all the priests of the Diocese and myself are very devoted to Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement. We in no way want to ever impune her good work, nor the work of the Catholic Worker in Des Moines, in their service to the poor and their advocacy for social justice. We really want to make that very clear, and that was in our statement. And Dorothy was very Faithful to the celebration of the Mass and liturgy, it was central to her every day, and she is being proposed to be a Saint. So we in no way make the statement to be in conflict with our appreciation for the service to the poor and advocacy of social justice.

And you know they circulate widely their paper so they reported 12 to 14 people who actually attended that service of this woman … But several people contacted me, so the root of the initiative by me and the Council was that these people of the Faith, very authentic members of the Faith were deeply hurt and offended by what they consider very central to their Faith and Faith life … So Catholics regard the Mass as very central, that it takes a minimum of six years for an individual to be ordained to celebrate that Mass, that they treat it with a great deal of respect and so they were offended by that.

So in the context of the participation of women, etc, we obviously welcome prayer services and other activities such that they would like to do with the leadership of women but to this date it cannot be portrayed as Mass and people are deeply offended by that so they have been in contact with me about it.”

(THE HARM: the interviewer asked if there was great offense, what was the harm?)

“Well, basically communicating that it was a Mass and it was not a Mass, in other words they took offense, as I said earlier. That if there was a prayer service or was portrayed as it really was there was no offense at all but as I said Mass is restricted to ordained ministers of the Church, authentically ordained members of the Church, that prepared 6 years in order to do that.” Bishop Pates – Transcribed from audio:



Then on October 7, 2015 we posted “Good News! DMCW invited to meet with Priest Council & Bishop Nov 10, 2015 plus recap of the DMCW and Bp Pates ‘No MASS’ Conflict: Letters, E-mails and News links https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/national-cw-e-mail-list/pates%7Csort:date/national-cw-e-mail-list/KIuIWGXjUE0/CcXyv4aHBgAJ


Then we posted on November 14 “Report from DM Catholic Worker’s Nov 10th meeting with Bishop & Priest Presbyteral Council” https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/national-cw-e-mail-list/pates%7Csort:date/national-cw-e-mail-list/aU80qoYDTk0/j5d41wmeCwAJ

There is so much that can be said about our Nov. 10th meeting with you and the Presbyteral Council (see content of above link). The best thing from you I heard was what you said to the Des Moines Register “that the suspension of the celebration of Mass will continue, but that the council is open to ongoing dialogue with Catholic Worker House representatives … The Presbyteral Council adheres to and goes forward in the spirit of Pope Francis in his commitment to fidelity to Church teaching while being open to ongoing conversation.”


That was five months ago. There has been no move on your side Bishop for continued dialogue.


I want to ask you why not?

I want to know why now? The DMCW has taken public stands for women’s ordination and reform in the Catholic Church for most of our 40-year history. See: “For The Record: DM Catholic Worker: 40 years and counting!” by Frank Cordaro, via pacis, April 2016, p.5


And I really want to know who are these “very authentic members of the Faith (who) were deeply hurt and offended by what they consider very central to their Faith and Faith life” that pushed you and the Presbyteral Council  to take up the matter that “members expressed great offense at this action of a rite that is so precious to them and others. They unanimously approved … that the (Mass) privilege be revoked”?


Who are these “authentic Catholics” who have so much influence over you and the priests of our diocese? Why are their voices of more value to you than the DMCW community’s?  Why are you shunning the community Father David Polich said on March 19 at the Dingman Peace Awards ceremony “has been in Des Moines and central Iowa the last 40 years by far the strongest voice for the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church?”



We need to talk Bishop because Fr. Roy Bourgeois  and Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska are coming to Des Moines August 26-28 to help us celebrate our 40th Anniversary. There will be great pressure on you to take a public stand on their coming to Des Moines. My prayer for you is that you take your lead from the Papal Nuncio in Washington DC when Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska showed up at the Vatican Embassy on Holy Thursday and ‘not judge and listen’ to what Fr. Roy and Janice have to say.



Bishop, we need to talk …


Frank Cordaro

515 282 4781 / c 515 490 2490


Phil Berrigan CW House


DMCW http://dmcatholicworker.org

Occupy the World Food Prize campaign

































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