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Covington bishop apologizes to Covington Catholic students

“I especially apologize to Nicholas Sandmann and his family,” said Bishop Roger Foys in a statement released today, “as well as to all CovCath families who have felt abandoned during this ordeal.”

A marquee for Covington Catholic High School is seen Jan. 23 in Park Hills, Ky. (CNS photo/Madalyn McGarvey, Reuters)

Covington, Ky., Jan 25, 2019 / 03:54 pm (CNA).- Bishop Roger Foys of Covington issued an apology Friday for a Jan. 19 diocesan statement that condemned the actions of some Covington Catholic High School students, following a widely publicized incident after last week’s March for Life in Washington, DC.

“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,” said Bishop Foys in the letter, which was addressed to the parents of Covington Catholic students.

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

Foys also singled out Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann, the student at the center of the controversy. A video emerged Jan. 19 of Sandmann standing in close proximity to Native American activist Nathan Phillips, who was, at the time, chanting and playing a ceremonial drum.

Phillips made claims that he had been blocked and taunted by Sandmann, but video evidence later showed that Phillips had wandered into a crowd of Covington Catholic students while chanting and drumming.

“I especially apologize to Nicholas Sandmann and his family as well as to all CovCath families who have felt abandoned during this ordeal. Nicholas unfortunately has become the face of these allegations based on video clips,” said Foys. “This is not fair. This is not just.”

Earlier in the week, Foys offered similar sentiments to the student body at Covington Catholic during a rally.

“Know that I stand with you, that I join with you in that ‘Spirit that will not die’ and that together we will work through this. Thank you and God bless you,” the bishop told students.

The Kentucky Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School released a joint statement Jan. 19, condemning the students’ behavior, at a time when it was widely reported that they had been mocking or antagonizing Phillips.

“This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person. The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion,” the Jan. 19 statement said.

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

Since the controversy began, Covington Catholic High School students have been subject to death threats, and the school was closed on Monday. Classes resumed with heavy police presence.

On Saturday, Phillips and a crowd of about 50 attempted to disrupt Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, but were stopped by shrine security.

On Jan. 22, the Diocese of Covington released an updated statement saying that it would open a third-party investigation into what actually happened on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Foys’ most recent statement said that it was his “hope and expectation” that this investigation would “exonerate” the students, and that they will be able to move past this ordeal. He also expressed support for Robert Rowe, the principal of Covington Catholic High School. Rowe is a “fine leader,” said Foys, and “those calling for his resignation simply do not know him.”

“I pray that with the grace of God and the goodwill of all involved peace will once again reign in the hearts and minds of our faithful,” said Foys.

“As for CovCath, we have a spirit that will not die!”

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  1. The bishop rightly speaks of being “bullied and pressured” into doing the wrong thing. However, given the ideological position of those who dominate the media, this kind of pressure and bullying is normal and the bishops should learn from St. Peter’s denial not to cave in to the spirit of the anti-Christ that is the spirit of these times of apostasy in the world.

    • No Jacob. There was no bullying. The students were bullied. Not him.
      He is just a plain coward who wants to please the secular world and then excuse his cowardice and the fact that he threw his flock under the bus.

      • As a Catholic I find all to often Bishops of our faith hiding rather than confronting the issues in front of them. This bishops seems to have been no different.

      • Where is the response from Pope Francis ? He was just at world youth day while these poor kids were getting thrown under the bus. I am currently struggling with my faith and these apologies are not nearly enough. How about condemning the actions of the other parties and the media. Who all really against Catholics any chance they get ?

        • Yes, how true! We should not let this incident go to rest as it becomes old news. No, we should learn from others, and keep this alive and hold those responsible, to their words! They think they can get away with it, and to an extent, they’re right! You can easily dump on Catholics, without usual protests, as catholics will take it, as we think we are 2nd class citizens!we should go after the perps, as anyone else would do!

  2. I do not for one moment buy this bishop’s attempt at covering his rear end.

    This is no apology. This is damage control and in response to the threat of a lawsuit.

    This bishop cares not for the truth nor for the flock that God has entrusted to him.

    To the end he lies.

    First he uses “we”. Who is this “we”? Was it not him the Archbishop who issued this statement? So why say we when it is him singular who did this?

    Secondly, bullied by whom? Now he portrays himself as the victim of bullying when it is he by his condemnation of the student who has in fact bullied the students who WERE being truly bullied by Philips.

    You care not for your flock bishop. You only care for your image and how to protect your rear end.

    You do not take responsibility for your actions but instead pass the buck by making excuses and hiding behind others. So totally unbecoming of a supposed Bishop of Christ.

    Catholics of Covington cannot expect support from their shepherd. They can expect to be fed to the wolves.

  3. It does seem like the Cardinals/Bishops are cowards. They can be bullied by the Pope. Evil is having its way with them – Satan is shifting them like wheat. They were probably bullied as seminarians into sexual compromise by the likes of McCarrick and evil has had their way with them. Please dear Jesus pray for us, that we will survive this terrible betrayal.

    I am struck by the Bishop using the words “condemn”. Not one sexually abusive predatory homosexual priest has ever been condemned. Jesus was condemned by corrupt Jewish leaders in his day.

    Jesus got true repentance from Peter. That is the key to all of this. Facing God.

    Luckily this incident was videotaped. Otherwise the lies would still be the narrative.

  4. What an unmanly statement, to play victim and say “we were bullied” into crucifying our own teenage boys, instead of saying: “I unjustly abandoned those who I should have defended.”

    These men like Bishop Foys are simply unmanly, as is the post-Catholic fraud Bishop Stowe, who personally attacked these manly teenage boys, while Stowe himself tours the US promoting sexual immorality, in complete rejection of the witness of Our Lord Jesus and his martyrs.

    God bless manly Bishops like the late Bishop Robert Morlino, and Bishop Strickland and Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Schneider of Khazakstan.

    And may the Lord Jesus defend our good Bishops and fill them with his grace, and may he expose every wicked and cowardly bushop for their unmanly shirking of their duty as shepherds, and their fraudulent post-Catholic cult of McCarrick.

    • Hopefully bishops in New York will defy Cardinal Dolan’s usual wimpiness and excommunicate Cuomo as they are rumoring to want to do.

      • I not only think Cuomo should be excommunicated but also those others of his ilk such as Pelosi, Biden, Kane and so many others who take communion in front of the parishioners who know the sins they support each and every day while in office: abortion and same sex marriage but for two.

    • I absolutely agree. The Church abandoned the sheep to the wolves because they like being part of the wolf-club. The Church, sadly, does not protect the sheep from the slavering, ravenous wolves of the media and politics1 rather they put on a weak show. When in high school, my daughter wore a WWJD bracelet to remind her to live a Christ-like life but she also knew that Jesus also turned over a few tables, used a whip and showed his temper when it was necessary. My Australian Shepherd has used his fangs to protect sheep from coyotes when necessary… why won’t the Church do that to protect its flock? The Church should never have to backpedal and apologize for not protecting the flock first. For shame.

  5. Mr. Santos, as a Roman Catholic myself and having attended Catholic schools up to and including college, I must say your comments about Bishop Foys are 100% ACCURATE. This bishop-priest has failed his flock so badly that he should consider stepping down as a Bishop. I suspect he won’t as he’s full of poor excuses as to why it’s somebody else’s fault as to why he failed. The full videotape was available BEFORE he made his poorly chosen remarks. He couldn’t even bother to get the fact before condemning the students. I hope our Lord doesn’t work that way. Why hasn’t the Holy Father in Rome, who is aware of this mess, spoken up in support of the students? In the nearly 70 years I’ve been on this Earth I have watched my Catholic Church decline to the point that I no longer recognize most of what I now see. One thing that hasn’t changed is the Church continually asking why the number of parishioners nationwide, as well as the West in general, keeps on declining. They merely need look to Rome for the answer.

  6. Liar. Self-serving liar.

    This Bishop wasted no time throwing these children to the wolves when all of the evidence of their innocence and video proof of them being attacked, bullied and victimized was readily available. He chose to not look at the evidence but rather to jump on the bandwagon to attack these children lest he becomes a collateral target as a Catholic. Bishop Roger Foys was NOT bullied, he willingly and gleefully joined the bullies, It is only now that he has been exposed and under threat of legal action has he decided to do damage control and try to place the blame for his deeds on others. How Christian of him. If only Bishop Foys followed the examples set forth by Christ rather than emulating Peter: ” “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” Bishop Foys disowned not only his flock but the rest of faithful Catholics as well in an effort to cover his own ass.

    And one wonders why so many faithful Catholics have fallen away from the church. It is because of the insincere, self-serving, lies and hypocrisy of so-called shepherds like Foys. Time to retire and put this vile little man out to pasture where he can do no more harm.

  7. “We should not have allowed ourselves to be bullied…” Oh, very clever deflection, Bishop! So now, YOU are the victim! This is the Pope Francis defense when accused by Viganò. Foys is a learned pupil.

  8. The statement by the Bishop seems sincere to me. No real apology is too late, nor to small. He admits he rushed to judgement and admits that hurt many people. He is leading by example. He also indicates that the church, “we”, will stand by the students. This is good and we as Catholics should be grateful for leadership by example of our beliefs.

    • Sincere? The NON=apology is as fake as fake can be.

      1) He only apologized because of the threat of a lawsuit.
      2) HE did not admit anything. He hid behind the WE when there is no WE. There is only HIS decision. Up to the very end, he is trying to weasel out of his bad deed.
      3) It is not the “Church” who needs to say that “we will stand by students”. The flock DID stand by the students. It is the SHEPHERD who fed them to the wolves.
      4) I am so very, very not greatful for having a bishop like Foy. He is a cause for shame in the church just like all the other bishops who brought us to the worst crisis in the church.

      It is precisely the same spirit that animated some bishops to: sex abuse or to aid and abet the sexual abusers or who remained silent when they should have spoken,that animates Foy. It is not the Holy Spirit.

  9. What an embarrassment of a letter. Just passing the buck. The bishop should go to the high school and personally apologize and thank the students for their fidelity to the catholic teaching on abortion.

  10. Upon reading of Bishop Foy’s apology, I said a silent prayer that the Holy Spirit will strengthen his episcopacy with renewed courage and right judgment.
    Merriam-Webster defines bullying thus:”abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger and more powerful.”
    Perhaps the good bishop might favor his flock by identifying the persons or parties who “bullied” him.

  11. It is beginning to seem being a child in the Catholic Church….abortion approval, abuse with no punishment of perpetrators, allowing media to smear and cause threats to children….being a Catholic child is the least protected in the world.

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