Catholic World News

Virginia priest reveals past KKK membership, before change of heart

August 22, 2017

A Catholic priest in Virginia has taken a leave of absence from ministry after revealing that he was once an active member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

Father William Aitcheson repudiated his racist background years ago, before he became a Catholic and entered the seminary. In a column published by the Arlington Catholic Herald, he said that Catholics should condemn racism “at every opportunity.”

“My actions were despicable,” Father Aitcheson said, referring to his active involvement in the KKK during the 1970s. He spent 90 days in jail after being convicted of involvement in a cross-burning incident in 1977. Today the priest notes the irony of having left an anti-Catholic organization, later to join the Catholic priesthood.

Arlington’s Bishop Michael Burbidge said: “While Father Aitcheson’s past with the Ku Klux Klan is sad and deeply troubling, I pray that in our current political and social climate his message will reach those who support hate and division, and inspire them to a conversion of heart.”


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Lydia B - Aug. 22, 2017 8:23 PM ET USA

    I'm not sure why someone's repented sin from the distant past should suddenly be "troubling", unless, as Lucius said, there's more to the story.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Aug. 22, 2017 1:31 PM ET USA

    Well if Father repented (why make this whole thing public?) why take a leave of absence? More is going on here than revealed. Plus the majority of the violence hate, division and unrest is not coming from the KKK but from groups like Antifa.