By Ron Marasco
Conclave kicked off Tuesday in Rome. A local bishop thinks we should know who the next pope will be by Thursday or Friday.
"They always say that the individual who goes into the conclave pope comes out a cardinal," says Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines.
Pates obviously joking that the frontrunner going into conclave usually doesn't end up that way.
"The cardinals shake it up and kind of go their own way and choose the person they really like," said Pates.
So why has conclave attracted so much attention?
"The pope has kind of an advantage of being a worldwide leader, and I think that naturally is of interest to everybody," said Pates.
Bishop Pates would like to see the cardinals elect an American and says most of us would be proud to have an American pope. But he says those in Rome may not feel the same way.
"They seem to think that because the United States is so powerful, so rich (that it) might not be the best representative of the church today given the worldwide poverty and difficulties we experience," said Pates.
Bishop Pates says many capable individuals also come from Africa, South America and Asia.
"I think that the sentiment today is perhaps to move away from Europe a little bit," said Pates.
Many say this pope must have the skills to fix a lot of the problems the Catholic church now faces.
"First and primary role is a spiritual leader," said Pates. "I think secondarily that he has to choose a good manager as a number two man."
So how will Iowans be impacted?
"As I say, the agenda," said Pates. "He's going to emphasize where he's going to go with his own leadership, (which) will trickle down. We'll feel it. We'll be a part of it."
A pope actually visited Iowa back in 1979. Pope John Paul II visited Living History Farms in Urbandale, and Bishop Pates says that's one of the singular most important events in Iowa history.