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.
- ▼ 2008 (17)