A Catholic priest is temporarily stepping away from his duties after revealing he was a member of the infamous Ku Klux Klan hate group decades ago.
Rev. William Aitcheson of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, expressed regret for his actions as an impressionable young man in a editorial.
My actions were despicable, Aitcheson, 62, wrote. 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.
The letter published Monday follows a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12.
Aictheson wrote that images from the rally brought back memories of a bleak period in my life that I would have preferred to forget.
The Arlington Diocese did not return an Anadolu Agency's request for comment.
A statement published online by the diocese quoted Bishop Michael F. Burbidge as describing the priest's past with the KKK sad and deeply troubling.
Burbidge added: 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.
Approximately 1 in 10 Americans, or about 22 millions people, believe it is acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, according to a poll released Monday.
Roughly the same number of people said they support the alt-right movement in the ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Fifty percent said they oppose the controversial movement often criticized as a vehicle for white supremacists.
Aitcheson said images from the Charlottesville rally 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.
A note at the end of the editorial said it was written with the intention of telling his story of transformation.
In what is thought to be the largest such demonstration in a decade, hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville in violent protest that resulted in the death of one counter-protester and injuries to more than 30 others.
Source: Anadolu Agency