"Et Tu, Brute?":
Maria Santos Bier and her Detraction against Fr. Bill Aitcheson

by Mary Ann Kreitzer

"Et tu, Brute?" The most unkindest
cut of all comes from a "friend" who
recalls you fondly.
For the past few days I've been reading all the online material in the saga of my friend and former pastor, Fr. William Aitcheson which began with an article by Maria Santos BierHow I discovered my childhood priest was in the Ku Klux Klan. Maria assures us that Fr. Bill always treated her kindly and that "I recall him fondly." Well, that's a relief! It was she who unnecessarily exposed Father's sins of forty years ago, of which he's clearly repented. I can only imagine what she would have written if she thought of him un-fondly. This is surely Fr. Aitcheson's "Et tu, Brute?" moment.

For a person to do what Maria did is a serious sin of detraction. For a Catholic to do it is unconscionable; but maybe Maria has never heard of detraction. (Detraction is publicly revealing the sins of a person, not commonly known, that destroys his good name.)

You can almost feel Maria's excitement over her "scoop" as she tells the reader about discovering the juicy information. Googling Fr. Bill's name, she found a 1977 article about a college student in the KKK and recognized Father by the accompanying photo. Then Maria tells us:
Overcome by curiosity, I had to know if this was the same person — and if the church knew. I emailed the spokeswoman for the Arlington, Va., bishop’s office to ask....The Saturday morning after I sent my email, an official from the diocese emailed me back to say they would look into it; he asked if I was a journalist. By now, I realized that there was no question of Aitcheson being a different person and that I had clumsily stumbled into a real story. Yes, I said: I was a reporter in addition to being a former parishioner.
Omigosh, what an opportunity for Maria's fifteen minutes of fame and a nice little check from the Catholic-baiting Washington Post! Hey, Maybe even a Pulitzer! And, Maria tells us she is a "journalist!" Wow! We know they are "all honorable men" (and women). Right?

It's clear from Maria's article that she not only finds Fr. Bill guilty for his past membership in the KKK, but for daring to defend the Confederacy, a position with which she tells us she disagrees. Having ascended to the moral high ground, she implies that Fr. Bill's pro-Confederacy position means he is still a racist, that his "conversion" is a lie. And then she talks about her stomach-churning guilt over singing "Dixie."

Oh Please! At that point I reached for the barf bag.

Maria's dismissive tone toward former parishioners and neighbors of the South who have this strange local pride in their "stories" and "music" struck me as condescending and, frankly, ignorant. Anyone who has studied the complicated issues surrounding the Civil War and the rights and wrongs on both sides would show more humility and less nose-in-the-air superiority toward those who take pride in the courage of their forefathers. And the disrespect of a Catholic, a young person to boot, referring to her priest as "Aitcheson" set my teeth on edge.

Let me share a little of my experience with Fr. Bill Aitcheson.

I first met Fr. Bill about 25 years ago when I was invited to give a pro-life presentation at St. Elizabeth's in Colonial Beach. The pastor, Fr. John Cregan and Fr. Bill, his associate, were both staunch advocates of the pro-life movement defending unborn babies -- no matter what their color. Fr. Bill had participated in pro-life direct action in Reno and later here in Virginia. He encouraged me in my rescue and sidewalk counseling efforts. I never once heard a racist word from his lips and he was one of the few pastors in the diocese I ever heard preach boldly about the culture of death and the evils of contraception and abortion. I often went to him after Mass just to say thank-you for his courageous homilies.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
Since blacks who represent about thirteen percent of the population have over thirty percent of the abortions in this country, anyone who fights abortion is clearly defending the rights of baby slaves in the womb considered the property of their mothers. Fighting abortion fights black genocide. Perhaps Fr. Bill's pro-life actions were his way of atoning for past sins of racism. Rescue black babies!

I wonder what Maria's atonement will be for her detraction, since she cannot restore Fr. Bill's good name and her article resulted in a pile-on by media all over the country. Maria generated the perfect storm for Catholic hate, particularly priest-hate which never needs much instigation. She had a choice to go privately to Fr. Bill and urge him to apologize and pay his debt to the families he hurt. She chose instead to get the scoop, raise a ruckus of hate which continues to boil in many articles and com-boxes, and to destroy Fr. Bill's good name. Shame on you, Maria. The damage you did cannot be undone. If Fr. Bill never returns to ministry, you can add his lynching to your resume.

And now I have a confession. Like Fr. Bill, I'm pro-Confederate. I believe we would be better off in this country if the South had won the war. Why? Because we would not have the draconian central government we have today. Slavery was dying. It would no doubt have ended the way it did elsewhere (even in D.C.) through compensated emancipation. Did 600,000 really have to die to accomplish what happened elsewhere with no bloodshed?

My son Neil holding a precious little one we
saved at Milan Vuitch's D.C. abortion mill 
in 1977. She was born on the anniversary
of Roe v. Wade in 1978.
The Civil War was complicated. The deep South certainly was invested in slavery, the northern Dixie states less so. There were few slaves in the Shenandoah Valley where I live and in western (now West) Virginia. Despite bitter disagreements over emancipation which had been argued in the state legislature since the 1830's, Virginia was opposed to secession until the invasion by the North and the firing on Fort Sumter. It was clearly a war of aggression since almost all the battles occurred in the South. And if you want to hear horror stories, read about the scorched earth war crimes by northern generals Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan who were determined to crush "the rebellion" by any means necessary no matter how evil. Their attacks on civilians in the South, mostly old men, women, and children, are well known, actions Catholic just war theory clearly denounces. They burned homes and sent southern refugees fleeing on the cusp of winter. But liberals don't talk about that.

So, Maria, am I a racist? I defend the Confederacy.

It would be a hard charge to prove.

For years my husband I offered a shelter home to unwed moms. We supported two black mothers who shared our home during and after their pregnancies. I was a labor coach for one of them. We never asked the crisis pregnancy centers what color the moms were when they called for our help, we just welcomed young women in need of love and support. We foster-parented a black kindergartener who fifteen years later called just to say hello. By the grace of God I was involved in saving a number of black babies through rescue and sidewalk counseling. My husband and I have hosted black children from New York City through the Fresh Air Fund.

I live in the same parish as Maria growing up and her family. I know them. They've been to our home. A good friend of mine who flies the Confederate flag tutored Maria in Spanish for years. She and I both find this sad episode personally sickening. We are praying for both Fr. Bill Aitcheson and for Maria Santos Biel.

Fr. Aitcheson has repented of his actions.

Et tu, Maria?

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