Iowa seeks separation of church and sports

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The state’s largest Catholic Diocese is implementing a policy to create a separation between church and sports. Bishop Richard Pates of the Des Moines Diocese has approved a policy at the request of the priest council that would prohibit any Catholic school from holding activities not related to religious services or religious education on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings.

“Our priests especially are experiencing the fact that it’s kind of a creeping incursion Wednesday evenings and also Sunday mornings, particularly in terms of their participation related to youth leagues related to sports, etcetera, soccer and that sort of thing,” Pates says.

The Bishop says a young person confronted with the possibility of playing sports or going to church, they would naturally want to play sports, and the puts pressure on the parents that want them to go to church. The other Catholic Dioceses have varying policies that seek to accomplish the same end.

Davenport Diocese faith formation coordinator, Mary Weiser says they limit activities for those days in Scott County. She says smaller parishes outside of Scott County have different days they hold religious education, and adjust accordingly.

The diocese in Dubuque and Sioux City leave it up to the schools to set restrictions and officials says most schools have some type of rule. Bishop Pates says the rules only apple to Catholic schools, but he hopes it will give parents some backing and allow them to take a stand with their kids.

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