Saturday, September 23, 2017

Priest admits he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan

Forty years ago he was a Ku Klux Klan “wizard,” burning crosses on black families’ lawns. Now, after decades as a Catholic priest, he’s coming forward about his past.

While Fr William Aitcheson’s racist past was a matter of public record, it wasn’t widely known in the diocese of Arlington, until this week. Prompted by images of violence during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Aitcheson described his transformation in a column published Monday in The Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper, and urged white supremacists to repent.

“While I firmly believe God forgave me — as he forgives anyone who repents and asks for forgiveness — forgetting what I did would be a mistake,” wrote Fr Aitcheson, who is taking a leave of absence from active ministry. “My actions were despicable. When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter, and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else.”

Aitcheson, 62, said 40 years have passed since he was in the Klan, but the violence he saw last week compelled him to describe his journey.

The diocese noted that Aitcheson “voluntarily asked to temporarily step away from public ministry, for the well being of the Church and parish community.”

In a statement, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge called Aitcheson’s past with the Klan troubling, but said he hopes his story of transformation will help others.  (more...)


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