The students from Covington Catholic High School who were painted as antagonists after a video of them at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. last week went viral, were unfairly targeted and condemned by the vicious media.
But the worst part of the condemnation that rained down on their heads did not come from the media. It came from the school that the students attend and the local Catholic diocese that it serves.
Like the mainstream media, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School chose to convict their own students before all the facts were known.
"We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips [the Native American who came face-to-face with the students]” a joint statement read. "This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person." They vowed an investigation, and "appropriate action, up to and including expulsion."
A religious school that is supposed to teach and preach about the dangers of bearing false witness and condemning the righteous did exactly that to its own students.
When the students needed their religious leaders the most – the ones who knew them best – they were condemned by them and led to slaughter.
The school’s stated mission is, in part, to "encourage respect for others and service to the community;" to "embrace the gospel message of Jesus Christ in order to educate young men spiritually, academically, physically, and socially.”
But Covington Catholic High School and the diocese it serves did not practice what they preach. By throwing their students and parishioners under the bus, they betrayed them and every tenet they are supposed to hold dear.
The students were being preyed upon by an infamous group of radicals known as the Black Hebrew Israelites – a vicious hate group. It was the Black Israelites who were injecting hate and fear – not the group of high school students who had peacefully gathered for the cause of life. Those kids were taunted and baited, but they did not return the vitriol. They stood their ground and acted appropriately.
It’s no surprise that the media made no mention of these facts. But it’s shocking that the students’ own school failed to recognize them too.
The students deserved the support of their school, their church and their community. They deserved the presumption of innocence until all the facts were gathered and weighed. It is not enough for the school to now call for an independent investigation. The students have already been irreparably harmed by their own.
I pray that the Covington Catholic High School students will come to realize that they have taught an important lesson to their school administration, their Diocese and their community – that the values they learn and the tenets they believe were honored by them, and betrayed by the adults.