Saturday, November 23, 2013

Casting the First Stone

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you let him cast a stone at her.” ~ John 8:7

I don’t know about you, but I’m in no position to cast a stone at anyone. I’m not trying to pontificate or anything, it’s just not my style. I’m always afraid if I start judging others, they will return the “favor” with me, and I don’t want that. I’m no Charles Manson, but I have done things of which I am not overly proud. That’s probably true for most of us if we’re honest and don’t suffer from false moral superiority.

The reason for the biblical reference is the recent developments at St. Peter Catholic Church and the subsequent reactions. At last Saturday’s Mass, Rev. Bill Hayward from Holy Rosary read a prepared statement saying that Rev. Ireneusz Chodakowski was being replaced for three weeks. This was due to an ongoing investigation for Chodakowski’s alleged “lack of good judgment” regarding use of social media, namely Facebook.

On Wednesday of this week, the Kenosha News ran a front-page article by Bill Guida that was titled, “St. Peter priest removed amid investigation.” The article explained that an anonymous parishioner told the paper about the purported situation with Chodakowski. Imagine that, anonymous. The nameless informant’s account was chock full of the words allegedly and apparently.

Kenosha News Photo by Sean Krajacic
So, based on this unidentified person’s allegations, the Kenosha News ran a front-page column, complete with a photo. Please don’t think that I’m singling out the local print media. I’m not. The Milwaukee TV stations swooped in for the kill as well. TMJ4 even had the smarmy Jonah Kaplan sticking his microphone in parishioner’s faces as they exited Mass last week looking for their reactions. I have always felt this was a classless move.

Of course this “story” set off a firestorm of controversy. The blue-haired old ladies, that don’t know Facebook from Redbook, raced to their phones to spread their viewpoints. The haters of organized religion, particularly the Catholic faith, had new ammo for their guns. The vitriol and venom was flying because of what an anonymous parishioner perceived as some inappropriate photographs on Facebook.

Before I go on, I need to say something.


Give me a break. If alleged impropriety on a Facebook account was a crime, 75% of the people using it should be arrested. At the top of that list would be the fools that allow their 12-year old children to have an account on Facebook.

Again, COME ON!

Okay, back to my original diatribe.

The Kenosha News ran another front-page story on Father Chodakowski this morning. This piece is again authored by Bill Guida and comes after three days of nasty accusations and numerous judgments. The new column is titled, “Police probe clears priest.”


The first paragraph reads, “The pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church, 2224 30th Ave. – removed late last week amid allegations of impropriety with social media – was cleared Friday by Kenosha Police Department investigators of engaging in criminal activity.”

The article went on to say that Kenosha Police Department, Captain Eric Larsen said detectives, working with Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation investigators and conferring with the Kenosha County District Attorney’s office, determined that no crime occurred.

Again, nice.

Like I posted in Facebook earlier, I wonder if all the people that were “spreading the word” regarding the allegations of Father Chodakowski’s misuse of social media read this morning’s paper. I sure hope that they are just as eager to let everyone know how the investigation turned out. But I’ll bet not. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. The damage is done.

I better stop here, lest I start judging others. My only advice is, regardless of your personal feelings or beliefs, get the whole story and do some critical thinking before rushing to judgment. People can get hurt when stones are cast.

Until next time…from the booth.

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