A Roman-Catholic priest from northern Virginia has voluntarily stepped down after admitting to being a KKK member in the 1970s. Father William Aitcheson confessed to his racist past in the Arlington Catholic Herald and said thinking about his actions as a young man feel foreign to who he his today.
“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 wrote
The now 62-year-old priest said he joined the hate group as an “impressionable young man” but left the KKK and was brought back “through Jesus Christ in his mercy.” Yet despite having put a considerable amount of time and distance between his KKK days, the events in Charlottesville resurrected a part of him he believed he buried.
“The images from Charlottesville are embarrassing. They embarrass us as a country, but for those who have repented from a damaging and destructive past, the images should bring us to our knees in prayer,” he wrote. “Racists have polluted minds, twisted by an ideology that reinforces the false belief that they are superior to others.”
In March of 1977, the Washington Post wrote about Aitcheson who was then 23-years-old and charged with six cross burnings in the D.C. area. It’s reported Aitcheson was a student at the University of Maryland studying radio, television and film. Yet law enforcement says he was known as the “exalted cyclops” for a group of KKK members belonging to the Robert E. Lee Lodge in the state.
Aitcheson describes his actions as “deplorable” and has a message to any current members of the KKK.
“If there are any white supremacists reading this, I have a message for you: you will find no fulfillment in this ideology. Your hate will never be satisfied and your anger will never subside,” Aitcheson wrote.