In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, a 62-year-old Catholic priest wrote an op-ed to tell his conversion story “from hate to love with God’s grace,” but also with an announcement that he is taking a step away from his public ministry because he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan 40 years ago.
Father William Aitcheson’s testimony is no different than other converts to Christianity. He acknowledged his sinful behavior and sought out a savior. Most people rejoice over those who have transformed their lives for the better, but apparently, the pressures of political correctness proved too much in this regressive culture:
For the past several decades, I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as a Catholic priest. Originally ordained for the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas, I transferred to my home area here in the Diocese of Arlington.
What most people do not know about me is that as an impressionable young man, I was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s public information but it rarely comes up. 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.
As a young adult I was Catholic, but in no way practicing my faith. The irony that I left an anti-Catholic hate group to rejoin the Catholic Church is not lost on me. It is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy.
Aitcheson acknowledged that it has been 40 years, but still issued a heartfelt apology “To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry. I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me.”
The priest said the images of Charlottesville brought some terrible memories to his mind, and he used his op-ed to fully condemn racism and the KKK. He also encouraged white supremacists to find redemption as he has and asked readers to pray for them.
Originally, the article was merely a chance for Aitcheson to tell his story, but an added note from the diocesan states he feels he should take a leave of absence:
Father William Aitcheson’s article was written with the intention of telling his story of transformation. He voluntarily asked to temporarily step away from public ministry, for the well being of the Church and parish community, and the request was approved.
A statement from the Arlington Diocese also notes, “There have been no accusations of racism or bigotry against Fr. Aitcheson throughout his time in the Diocese of Arlington.”
Aitcheson is free to go about his business as he sees fit. However, the fact that he felt the need to step away highlights the goal of "progressives" in this country. We're sure stranger days are ahead.