Ex-KKK member-turned-priest confesses, apologises, takes leave

A priest in the US has published a statement confessing his Ku Klux Klan past. He joined the KKK as an “impressionable young man” he says.

In his Arlington Catholic Herald editorial William Aitcheson says images from last week’s deadly white supremacist and white nationalist rally in Charlottesville “brought back memories of a bleak period in my life that I would have preferred to forget”.

He credits his faith as helping him overcome the hatred he felt as a young man.

“While 40 years have passed, I must say this: I’m sorry. To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry. I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me.

“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. It’s hard to believe that was me.”

Aitcheson, who is 62, was ordained in 1988 after attending seminary at the North American College in Rome. He spent his early years as a priest in Nevada before becoming a permanent priest of the Diocese of Arlington in 1998.

Catholic Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge called Aitcheson’s past with the Ku Klux Klan “sad and deeply troubling”.

The diocese says there have been no accusations of racism or bigotry against Aitcheson during his time at the diocese.

After ordination, he worked in Nevada before being transferred to his home town of Arlington.



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