Bishop Burbidge’s letter to parishioners
at St. Leo Parish on Fr. Aitcheson

August 26, 2017


This following letter from Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, was read at all Masses at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church on August 26 and 27:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you are likely aware, in an editorial on August 21, 2017, Fr. William Aitcheson acknowledged and reflected on his past as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He left that life behind him 40 years ago and has since journeyed in faith to eventually become a Catholic priest. He has served faithfully and never has been accused of racist or bigoted comments while serving in our diocese.

Fr. Aitcheson’s past with the Ku Klux Klan is sad and deeply troubling. Racism is incompatible with the Catholic faith and has no place in our Church. With God’s grace, I pray that his message will reach those who support hate and division, and inspire them to new life in Jesus.

While Father’s story is one of redemption and conversion, he understood that sharing his message could cause distraction to the parish community. As such, he discerned it would be best to step away from his parish duties temporarily, and I have granted him that time.

Father has acknowledged his responsibility to resolve the civil judgments arising from his actions in the 1970s in a just manner.

I have informed Fr. Aitcheson of your prayerful support, which you shared through social media posts, emails, letters, and phone calls and he was most grateful. I will remain in dialogue with Fr. Aitcheson and will communicate his future plans to you once they are prayerfully discerned and determined.

Please be assured of my prayers for the entire Saint Leo Parish community especially at this time. May we remain united to our Lord Jesus Christ and ever dependent on His divine mercy and infinite love.


Sincerely in Christ,

Bishop Burbidge Hi-Res Signature

Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge
Bishop of Arlington