The front page of the February 15th Projo delivered a one-two punch to Rhode Island Roman Catholics. Below the fold was the report that Father Philip A. Magaldi, a defrocked priest guilty of having sex with and stealing money from his former North Providence flock, was HIV positive in a Texas nursing home. The Texas diocese is publicly alerting those who may be at risk, something unheard of in Rhode Island when priests have AIDS or HIV.

Above the fold, however, was the priest scandal du jour: Christ the King pastor, Fr. Joseph Creedon, once fond of touting his membership in Priests for Justice, is battling parents in his North Kingston parish about what color dresses their daughters might wear to receive “the body and blood of Christ” for the first time. More disturbing, most parents have sheepishly tolerated his control mania, even after the diocese’s Vicar General confirmed canon law mandates only what color the priest must wear, not the communicants.

Joe Creedon—as he liked to be called—was one of those dashing, bright priests who came through the 60’s with a seeming yen for Vatican II reforms and Pope Paul VI’s charge, “If you want peace, work for justice.” Parishioners, especially women, fell under his spell.

When he became pastor of Christ the King, that parish welcomed traditional and disenfranchised Catholics. Traditionalists sat in pews beside the divorced and remarried, the gay and lesbian, defiant birth control users, people fighting for female and married priests, and other renegades called “Catholic” by the skin of their teeth.

Creedon seemed to smile on the global push by the laity to force the church into the 20th century.

Given that myth, I visited Creedon’s rectory one day. I had no appointment, but the gracious housekeeper welcomed me warmly. She recognized me from media coverage after Bishop Gelineau declared me excommunicated because of my work at Planned Parenthood and its abortion services.

She went to call the pastor after showing me to a private office.
Minutes later, Creedon arrived. He sat as far away from me as he could, stunned that a “public sinner” could appear on his doorstep.

I wondered if Christ the King had any room for me on occasion? It was not easy to say that the public excommunication was more painful for me than I publicly admitted, and I longed for the comfort of a church I still loved at that time.

Creedon’s face showed his feared that I was asking him to minister the sacraments to me. He aimlessly alluded to my dilemma, and his own helplessness: it became obvious that I would have to minister to him instead.

So, I offered, “Father, don’t worry, I didn’t come here to ask you for communion.”
I excused myself and left. I had seen the real Joe Creedon; not at all a Priest for Justice.

A quarter century later, Creedon is fixated on controlling what color dresses 7 year-old girls should wear at their First Communions. Worse, he is quoted by the Projo saying the traditional color white cannot denote innocence and worthiness.

“No one is worthy of receiving Communion,” Creedon opines, “Communion is not a reward for being good; Communion is a source of strength to become better.”

If 7 year-olds approaching the altar to accept their savior cannot be innocent and good, then Jesus’ command, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me.” is idle chatter.

If they or “no one” one is worthy of Communion, Joe Creedon may one day find himself excluded as well.

Changes We HOPE We Will Be Able To Believe In

As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue in a fight-to-the-finish, the debate over the value of the Electoral College system gathers steam-- again.

Currently, Democratic delegates are won based on voter percentages not ballots cast. More distressing, “super delegates” are free to vote as they please.

Democrats are about to select either the first woman or the first black presidential nominee. Followers of both candidates are deeply committed. Women who remember a lifetime of sexism in lost opportunities and exclusion support Clinton. So does the mainstream mainly white Democratic establishment and Latinos who love the Clintons and dislike blacks they feel too often overshadow them.

Obama, conversely, has tremendous support among African-Americans, archliberals, and young voters, all of whom work tirelessly for his cause. Such a passionate following sparks more energy than Clinton’s traditional gang.

Obama— always mesmerizing—often uses language of entitlement. With every step closer to a convention fight, he invokes a vague “we” whose “time has come.” On Super Tuesday, he finally said, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

“We,” who?

The race card long avoided is now subtly played daily by both sides, though older female and Latino support of Clinton pales before the fired-up black legions for Obama. Such support is in line with America’s political habit of ethnics lining up behind “one of their own.” Though few are willing to articulate this, blacks for Obama are no different than Irish for Kennedy, Italians for Cuomo, or Jews for Lieberman.

When Obama speaks of so many small contributions like the $3 money order mailed in by a Southern elder, he is not talking about masses voting from conviction on national or international issues, he is talking about a black person voting for another black person because, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

In the end, voters will have “chosen” a bunch of political regulars who, between visits to “hospitality suites,” will select the nominee. “Super” delegates who hold the deciding votes this year may favor Clinton who clearly has more political chits to call in than the less-than-one-term senator from Illinois.
How will black America react if Obama is “passed over” and Clinton gets the nod in this politically tainted and obtuse system?

Oprah, Jesse Jackson, and black scholars from Harvard may be angry and vocal, but, in the end, they will surrender to the pecking order that has always defined political reality. They are more comfortable with rhetoric than rioting.

But will those who cheered OJ Simpson’s acquittal because, finally, they beat “the man,” joined by college students always ready for a fight, and, inner city poor weaned on the rioting of Watts be physical or philosophical?

CNN and Washington Post polls show that if Obama is the nominee, Clinton supporters are willing and even happy to rally behind this capable, charismatic black man promising, “Change we can believe in.” The same polls say Obama supporters will get behind the brilliant, hard-working Sen. Clinton if she is chosen.

In the end, the demeanor of the losers, whoever the Democratic nominee will be, will test one “change” that we would all like to believe in.


Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
Italy Series of articles runs Aug./Sept/Oct 2015

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007
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"JOACHIM" - Oct. '92-March '08

"JOACHIM"  - Oct. '92-March '08
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