A Catholic priest has temporarily stepped down after admitting he was once part of the racist hate group, Ku Klux Klan.

According to an editorial in Arlington Catholic Herald, Rev. William Aitcheson revealed that over 40 years ago he made a horrible decision that led him to burning crosses, among other hateful acts, while in the group.

“My actions were despicable,” he 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,”

Aitcheson said that after the recent violence and protesting in Charlottesville, he felt it was necessary to talk about his past.

“The images from Charlottesville brought back memories of a bleak period in my life that I would have preferred to forget,” he wrote. “The reality is, we cannot forget, we should not forget. The images from Charlottesville 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.”

Ironically, Aitcheson left the KKK to become a Catholic priest.

“While 40 years had passed, I must say this: I’m sorry. To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry,” Aitcheson wrote. “I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me.”

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