Religion News Service
By Yonat Shimron
(RNS) — It was not images from the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that spurred a Virginia priest to come forward this month and confess he was a Ku Klux Klan member charged in several cross-burnings in Maryland and other offenses 40 years ago.
Rather, it was a journalist who had contacted the Diocese of Arlington and said she learned that the Rev. William Aitcheson’s legal name matched that of a man arrested in the 1970s.
Diocesan officials then confronted the priest.
“Aitcheson was approached about this, he acknowledged his past and saw the opportunity to tell his story in the hopes that others would see the possibility of conversion and repentance,” the diocese said in a statement.
Until earlier this week, Aitcheson served as parochial vicar at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax, Va. He has since been granted a leave of absence.
In a personal essay published in The Arlington Catholic Herald, the priest appears to be motivated by the national news to acknowledge his past: “The images from Charlottesville brought back memories of a bleak period in my life that I would have preferred to forget.”
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