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Re #CovingtonHighSchool: I will be happy to apologize for condemning the actions of the students if it turns out that they were somehow acting as good and moral Christians. The last thing I want is to see Catholic schools and Catholic students held in any disrepute. 1/
And I’ve certainly been wrong before. 2/
Because it seems like that there are now three narratives. First, students jeer at a Native American elder (and Vietnam Vet) after the March for Life. This is what horrified many people. And, frankly, a group of taunting high school students seemed to speak for itself. But… 3/
A second narrative is that students themselves were being jeered at by another group. That counter-narrative prompted some apologies today from some who had, like me, strongly condemned the students. 4/
But it’s very hard to square that second narrative with the apology from the school itself, and the Diocese of Covington, who would presumably have known, from first-hand reports and eyewitnesses, if the students’ actions had been somehow misrepresented. 5/
Now, a third narrative has emerged, thanks to the Detroit Free Press and other sources, which reports that Mr. Phillips, the elder, interposed himself between two jeering groups, chanting to bring peace. At which point the Covington students then turned their ire on him. 6/
Where does this leave us? First, a comment about the March for Life, which I support. The gross over-politicization of this religious event, and its increasing reliance on political figures to draw crowds, is unnecessary, irreligious and dangerous. 7/
Second, a more practical, pastoral, concern: where were the chaperones? The idea that a group of Catholic high school students appeared to have been placed, wittingly or unwittingly, in such an incendiary situation, seems to indicate a lack of oversight. 8/
Third, Rashomon-like, we may never know exactly what happened and the various “sides” may continue to disagree and condemn one another. But I hope the truth emerges and apologies are forthcoming. Mine will be, if necessary. If necessary, I hope the students' will be as well. 9/
Until then, a willingness to learn and dialogue are essential. Dialogue among Covington High School administrators. Between Covington students and Indigenous Peoples. Between that group of students and Mr. Phillips. 10/
In disagreement, dialogue is essential, as is what Pope Francis calls a “culture of encounter.” For example, a service trip for the students to a Native American reservation--as a learning opportunity. 11/
Another essential lesson, which transcends whatever happened in Washington this weekend: an understanding of the appalling treatment that Native Americans have endured in our country. That lesson needs to be learned regardless of what you think of Covington High School. 12/
This Teachable Moment can offer us, if we are both open and humble, important lessons about racism and marginalization, about dialogue and encounter, and about truth and reconciliation, during this coming week, which is, believe it or not, Catholic Schools Week. 13/13
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