- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Archdiocese of Baltimore apologized Wednesday for “speaking too hastily” in condemning the Covington Catholic teens over their high-profile encounter with Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips.

In a Saturday statement, the archdiocese had criticized “the disrespect shown toward a Native American elder during the March for Life,” but followed up after lengthier videos show Mr. Phillips initiated the contact by entering the boys’ cheer circle Friday at the Lincoln Memorial.

The latest statement begins by applauding the annual March for Life as “a magnificent affirmation of the value and dignity of human life.”

“How sad, then, that this life-affirming event was marred by the widely reported confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial,” the archdiocese said. “It has become apparent, however, that initial reports of that incident were at best incomplete. Those incomplete reports led many, including the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to speak out too hastily. We apologize for doing so.”

The Catholic students were waiting for buses back to Covington, Kentucky, after attending the 46th annual March for Life when they were called racist and homophobic names by a handful of black protesters, then approached by Mr. Phillips and several other adults with the Indigenous Peoples March.

“It is our hope that the young people involved were in fact acting in accord with the truth and values that are foundational to Catholic education. We also hope that this sad incident will give to all a renewed determination to respect the life and dignity of every person without exception,” the statement concluded.

The archdiocese’s Facebook page has been flooded comments calling for officials to withdraw their previous statement in light of the latest video.

Meanwhile, the Diocese of Covington has come under pressure to retract its initial statement condemning the behavior of the Catholic students and raising the possibility that they could be expelled following an investigation.

The diocese followed up with a Tuesday statement saying that a “third-party investigation is planned to begin this week.”

“This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people,” the Diocese of Covington said. “It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate.”

Covington Catholic High School reopened for class Wednesday after shutting down for security reasons on Tuesday following the high-profile incident.

The diocese added that it would have “no further statements until the investigation is complete.”

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