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Covington Bishop visits maligned students at school, doesn’t offer apology for condemnation

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COVINGTON, Kentucky, January 23, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Those waiting for the Diocese of Covington to apologize to Catholic students depicted in a viral video from the March for Life will have to wait at least until a third-party investigation into the matter wraps up, according to remarks by Bishop Roger Joseph Foys relayed to LifeSiteNews.

Last weekend, a group of students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky were accused of harassing an elderly Native American veteran while waiting for their bus to take them home from the just-concluded March for Life. It was widely claimed that the initial video showed the students surrounding and taunting Nathan Phillips as he beat a drum.

Denunciations of the students’ behavior were swift and fierce, but additional video and firsthand accounts soon revealed Phillips was the one who waded into the group waiting for its bus and decided to beat a drum inches from student Nick Sandmann while other adults, who accompanied Phillips, shouted racial taunts at the kids.

On January 19, the Covington Diocese and the high school issued a joint statement that the students were guilty of behavior “opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”

“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. 

After later reporting refuted the original narrative, Bishop Foys issued a new statement stating that an “independent, third-party investigation is planned to begin this week” and that it was “important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate.”

Many have criticized the community’s Catholic authorities for condemning the boys in the first place and for not simply retracting and apologizing for the original statement. On Wednesday a Covington parent speaking to LifeSiteNews on condition of anonymity said Foys visited the school and met with the boys today.

The parent said Foys claimed he was unable to change his story while things are being investigated, and any change to the previous statement would have to wait for the review’s conclusion. The parent added that Foys “has been very staunchly pro-life,” and while he did not apologize privately to the boys, his tone was “fairly good” and “very much in support of them.”

Many journalists quickly retracted their initial reactions, which have fed a liberal fervor that has included death threats. Covington Catholic closed down Tuesday due to safety concerns and reopened Wednesday with police protection. The tension may come to a head sooner rather than later, as the students’ attorney Robert Barnes announced Wednesday on Fox News that he was putting anyone who had publicly libeled the students on 48-hour notice that if they didn’t retract those statements by Friday, they may find themselves "a defendant in a lawsuit because those lawsuits will start to occur next week."

“If you've said anything false about these kids, they are willing to extend you a 48-hour time period — a period of grace consistent with their Christian faith — for you to, through confession, get redemption and retract and correct and apologize,” said Barnes, who is representing the students for free.

LifeSiteNews will continue to update this story throughout the day. Click here to read all LifeSiteNews coverage of the Covington Catholic case.

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