The bishop of Covington, Kentucky, has issued a public apology to Nick Sandmann and the other students falsely accused of “harassing” a Native American activist after the March for Life.
Bishop Roger J. Foys posted an online letter to parents of the students of Covington Catholic High School Friday, saying he had been “bullied and pressured into making a statement prematurely” but accepted responsibility for his hasty condemnation of the boys’ actions before knowing all the facts.
“I especially apologize to Nicholas Sandmann and his family as well as to all CovCath families who have felt abandoned during this ordeal,” the bishop said.
“Nicholas unfortunately has become the face of these allegations based on video clips. This is not fair. It is not just,” he said.
In his original statement, issued jointly with Covington Catholic High School, the bishop said that the boys’ behavior “is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person” and promised to take appropriate action “up to and including expulsion.”
“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. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,” the statement read.
In his new letter, Bishop Foys backs away from his former condemnation of the students.
“Within hours we were being pressured from all sides to make a statement regarding a video clip which purportedly showed students from Covington Catholic High School being disrespectful to Native American Elder Nathan Phillips,” he said.
“Subsequently, there have been death threats to some of the students and their families,” the bishop notes. “The vitriol and hateful comments on some online stories, some of them appearing on websites that purport to be Catholic and pro-life, have been beyond belief and anything but pro-life.”
“People who are not at all familiar with Covington Catholic High School, its students, faculty, staff, administration and/or the Diocese of Covington have felt free to criticize in the harshest terms,” he said.
The bishop claims that his prior statements were made “with good will based on the information we had.”
“We now await the results of the investigation and it is my hope and expectation that the results will exonerate our students so that they can move forward with their lives,” he said.
“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,” he said.
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