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Covington bishop speaks of ‘corrective action’, offers no apology to mistreated boys

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Jan. 22, 2019 statement from Diocese of Covington. www.covdio.org / screen grab

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COVINGTON, Kentucky, January 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Diocese of Covington headed by Bishop Roger Joseph Foys issued a new statement today about the Catholic boys the diocese and school had condemned on the weekend over what turned out to be false and slanderous reports that the students mocked Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

Instead of apologizing for succumbing to the mainstream media's spin on the Friday, January 19 altercation, Bishop Foys spoke about "corrective actions, if any, are appropriate" that may be forthcoming after a third-party investigates the matter this week. 

"Concerning the incident in Washington, D.C., between Covington Catholic students, Elder Nathan Phillips and Black Hebrew Israelites the independent, third-party investigation is planned to begin this week. This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people. It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate," the Jan. 22 statement read. 

"We pray that we may come to the truth and that this unfortunate situation may be resolved peacefully and amicably and ask others to join us in this prayer."

The diocese said that there would be no further statements "until the investigation is complete."

The statement is the only item on the diocese' webpage. 

On January 19, Bishop Foys issued a joint letter of condemnation with Covington Catholic High School of students targeted by both adult members of a racist sect and by activist Nathan Phillips.

“We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C.,” the January 19 statement read. 

“We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”

The bishop and school administration said the matter was “being investigated.” They added that they would “take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

On Saturday, Phillips and his entourage released misleading footage of his confrontation of the boys which seemed to support his claims that the teenagers had approached and taunted the activist. Subsequently, the boys were subjected to a harsh trial by media, as both liberal and conservative pundits condemned their apparent “behavior.” 

More complete footage of the students’ long wait for busses to take them home to Kentucky supported the students’ testimony that they had not surrounded, blocked, or mocked Phillips. It also showed that the students had been subjected to vile verbal abuse from adult members of the Black Hebrew Israelite sect before Phillips and his companions approached the teens. 

Now apologies are trickling in from the pundits, journalists, and celebrities who were quick to condemn the Covington Catholic kids. Meghan McCain has said that she “reacted too quickly” and apologized for “being part of a media pile on.” Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, corrected his initial Twitter message about the incident after viewing the complete footage of the incident available. Today he used the medium to reveal that he had spoken to Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann.

“Just spoke to MAGA hat kid Nick on the phone--he is a total hero and has been maligned by the media. He is in good spirits and plans to FIGHT these lies by the media. I told him we are with him 100%!  Media will divide and destroy us no longer!!” 

Even CNN’s S.E. Cupp apologized yesterday, tweeting “Hey guys. Seeing all the additional videos now, and I 100% regret reacting too quickly to the Covington story.”

“I wish I’d had the fuller picture before weighing in,” she continued, “and I’m truly sorry.” 

But as yet there’s been no expression of contrition from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington which, when the story broke, condemned the “actions” of the boys and offered apologies to Phillips. 

“This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teaching on the dignity and respect of the human person,” the letter-writers added. 

The diocese and school stated that the “matter is being investigated” and that they would “take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

School and diocese alleged also that the incident had “tainted” the March for Life.

“We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement,” they wrote.  

The Covington diocese has been taking a beating on social media as both accusers and defenders of the Covington Catholic High School boys make their displeasure known. 

Posting on the “Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington” Facebook page on December 19, Gillian Lawlee-Foster wrote, “Absolutely disgusted by the behavior of those highschool kids and by the adults responsible for raising, teaching and shepherding them. What a disgrace!”

But today Anna Dobin wrote, “You should have paused before you threw your children under the bus. You said there would be an investigation yet made a judgement.” 

There are now over 200 comments on the diocese’ Facebook page, many of them chastising the bishop for the diocese’ condemnation of the teenagers.  

There was criticism for the Diocese, too, from American media. Novelist James McElroy wrote in the American Conservative that the adults in the Covington diocese threw their children “under the bus.”

“The most egregious adult failure came from the Kentucky diocese that threw its own children under the bus,” McElroy wrote.  

“Responsible leaders would have waited for more information before issuing a statement. These kids were violently threatened by deranged lunatics only to be threatened with expulsion from their school,” he continued. 

McElroy pointed to the terrible irony in a Catholic bishop letting down the kids of his diocese.

“Church leaders are supposed to be shepherds, but they’ve been so beat up by the child abuse scandals that they no longer have any fight in them. And by failing to wait for the full story, the Church betrayed its youth once again, along with the entire pro-life movement by legitimizing propaganda against it,” he wrote.  

The writer concluded that the Church needs to stand its ground in social media disputes. 

“In a culture that views Christianity as synonymous with bigotry, the Catholic Church needs to be able to withstand a little cyberbullying.”

Not only did the webpage for the Diocese of Covington, covdio.org, disappear from the internet for several hours, it was impossible to reach diocesan officials by phone or to leave a phone message. LifeSiteNews’ multiple attempts to speak to someone in the Covington chancery office this morning were unsuccessful. 

Click here to read all LifeSiteNews coverage of the Covington Catholic case.

Contact information for respectful communications: 

Bishop Roger Joseph Foy
Diocese of Covington 
1125 Madison Avenue
Covington, Kentucky 41011

Ph: (859) 392-1500 

Email: [email protected]

Use online contact form here.

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