The ProJo’s front page on February 15 delivered a one-two punch to Rhode Island Roman Catholics. Below the fold was the report that Philip A. Magaldi, a former priest accused of sexually abusing minors here and in Texas, is HIV positive. The dioceses of Providence and Fort Worth are alerting those who may be at risk, something previously unheard of in Rhode Island when priests have HIV or AIDS.
 
Above the fold, however, was the priest scandal du jour: the Reverend Joseph Creedon, pastor of Christ the King Church in South Kingstown — who was once fond of touting his membership in Priests for Justice — is battling parish parents 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 that canon law mandates only what colored attire 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 1960s 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 laity’s global push to force the church into the 20th century.
 
Given that public impression, 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 Louis Gelineau had declared me excommunicated because of my work at Planned Parenthood and because of 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, apparently stunned that a “public sinner” could appear on his doorstep. I wondered: did Christ the King have any room for me on occasion? It was not easy to say that the public excommunication was more painful than I publicly admitted, and I longed for the comfort of a church that I still loved at that time.
 
Creedon’s face showed his fear 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 the color of dresses worn by seven-year-old girls at their First Communions. Worse, he is quoted by ProJo in saying the traditional color white cannot denote innocence and worthiness.
 
If seven-year-olds approaching the altar to accept their savior cannot be innocent and good, then Jesus’s 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.
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