Kentucky bishop apologizes to Covington teen for abandoning him: ‘We allowed ourselves to be bullied’

A Kentucky bishop delivered a personal apology to Covington families and directly to the teen at the center of the controversial clash with a Native American man.

The bishop who oversees Covington Catholic High School regretted that the diocese was “bullied” and reacted “prematurely” to video footage that showed a group of students from the school and their encounter with Native American marchers at the Lincoln Memorial last week, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

(Image: screenshot)

A joint statement from the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School condemned the students who were thrust into the spotlight as media reports portrayed them as racist offenders, and prompted a torrent of backlash and even death threats against them, especially Nicholas Sandmann – the MAGA hat-wearing teen who became the face of the controversy.

The diocese was also set to launch an investigation of the incident according to a statement released earlier in the week.

“We apologize to anyone who has been offended in any way by either of our statements which were made with goodwill based on the information we had,” the Most Rev. Roger Foys wrote in a letter Thursday to Covington High School families.

“We should not have allowed ourselves to be bullied and pressured into making a statement prematurely, and we take full responsibility for it,” he added.

Foys also extended his apology personally to Sandmann, whose family has now hired a nationally-recognized attorney who anticipates a “multitude of civil lawsuits” against the media and others who smeared the 15-year-old.

“I especially apologize to Nicholas Sandmann and his family as well as to all CovCath families who have felt abandoned during this ordeal,” Foys wrote in his letter. “Nicholas, unfortunately, has become the face of these allegations based on video based on video clips.”

“This is not fair. It is not just. We apologize to anyone who has been offended in any way,” he added.

Foys explained that the Diocese of Covington and the school reacted after “being pressured from all sides to make a statement” following video footage that surfaced last week which “purportedly” showed students “being disrespectful to Native American Elder Nathan Phillips.”

“Based on what the video clip showed we condemned the actions of students who engaged in the alleged disrespect and promised to investigate the matter,” he wrote, adding that after different videos emerged, “some of the very same people who had put tremendous pressure on us to condemn the actions of the students now wanted a retraction.”

The bishop also condemned death threats aimed at students while asserting his support for the school’s Principal Robert Rowe, who has been under pressure to resign. The school closed its doors last week amid threats of mass shootings and bomb attacks. A Kentucky prosecutor revealed that “terroristic” threats against Covington High School students are already being aggressively investigated.

“In the meantime, we call on all those who continue to spew venom and hate to desist and instead pray for a peaceful resolution to this tragic spectacle,” Foys wrote.

Earlier in the week, Foys spoke to students and faculty gathered in the school gym, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

“I am on your side. I want you to come out of this in a positive light,” he said, calling the previous days “a living hell.”

“This is a no-win situation. We are not going to win. No matter what we say, one way or another, there are going to be people who are going to argue about it,” Foys reportedly said. “It is my fond hope, it is my prayer, that when the truth comes out you and I and the diocese will be exonerated.”

Frieda Powers

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