Covington Bishop Apologizes for ‘Prematurely’ Condemning ‘MAGA’ Teens: I Was ‘Bullied and Pressured’

“I especially apologize to Nicholas Sandmann and his family.”

The bishop who oversees Covington Catholic High School said sorry Thursday for his and the dioceses’ rush to condemn students over a viral incident last Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial.

“We apologize to anyone who has been offended in any way by either of our statements which were made with good will based on the information we had,” the Most Rev. Roger Foys wrote in a letter to Covington parents, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Friday.

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The Most Rev. Roger Foys initially criticized the Kentucky school’s students for their behavior toward Native American elder Nathan Phillips on Jan. 18 in Washington, DC, saying it was “opposed to the Church’s teaching on the dignity and respect of the human person.”

He added in the statement, issued just a day after the confrontation between Phillips and the Catholic teens, who were in the capital for the March for Life anti-abortion rally, that the dioceses was investigating the matter and would “take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

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At the time, new outlets were reporting based on a single misleading video that the boys had surrounded and harassed Phillips. Nicholas Sandmann, a student at the front of the group, faced special opprobrium, with many trying to make him a poster boy for bigotry in President Donald Trump’s America.

Even well after additional videos and accounts made it clear that Phillips initiated the standoff and later misrepresented what happened, the Dioceses of Covington on Tuesday announced it was opening a third-party investigation into the incident. Other Kentucky bishops have also weighed in against the Covington students.

With his latest statement, Foys finally acknowledged that he and the dioceses had misjudged the situation. He lamented that the sacred body had allowed itself to be “bulled and pressured” into doing so.

“We should not have allowed ourselves to be bullied and pressured into making a statement prematurely, and we take full responsibility for it,” he wrote. “We apologize to anyone who has been offended in any way by either of our statements which were made with good will based on the information we had.

“I especially apologize to Nicholas Sandmann and his family as well as to all CovCath families who have felt abandoned during this ordeal.”

Foys complained that after the new footage came to light, the same people who demanded condemnation then asked him to issue a retraction. He went on to denounce the death threats towards the students and voiced his support for the school’s Principal Robert Rowe, who has been facing calls to resign due to the controversy.

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On Wednesday, a day before sending the apology letter, Foys also addressed Covington an assembly of students and faculty, telling them he was on their side and that he understood what they had gone through.

“These last four days have been a living hell for many of you, for your parents, for your relatives, for your friends and it certainly has been for me,” Foys said, according to the Messenger, the diocese’s publication.

“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,  he continued.

“The best we can do is, first of all, to find out the truth, to find out what really went on, what really happened. So we do have investigators who are here today, a third-party who is not associated with our diocese.”

Some journalists, commentators, and celebrities have responded to updated evidence about the confrontation by amending their views, and in some cases even apologizing. However, others have doubled down. Many conservatives have characterized the saga as a case of liberal bias run amok, and as evidence that liberal culture increasingly vilifies white Christian men.

On Friday, Sandmann’s family hired an attorney known for suing news outlets for libel.

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