|The Reagans visited the Butlers in 1982|
after reading about their ordeal.
The diocese issued a statement following a press conference the Butlers and their attorney held on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th. The Butlers refused to meet personally with Fr. Aitcheson and initially refused even to accept Fr. Aitcheson's letter of apology and his check for restitution. The Butlers later reconsidered and took the money ($23,000 in restitution and $9600 in lawyers' fees which Father is paying from his personal funds and through a loan), but the couple have publicly stated they don't know what it will take before they can forgive him.
And, in fact, at the press conference the Butlers said they are thinking of suing the Church for "covering up" for Fr. Aitcheson. According to a FOX 5 report, "The Butlers say Aitcheson used his position as a Catholic priest to continue his Ku Klux Klan activities by reportedly teaching young people the south was fighting for state’s rights, not slavery during the Civil War."
After reading that, my sympathy for the Butlers started to dry up. Is this their "pound of flesh" moment? Get a shark lawyer to sue the Church and destroy Fr. Aitcheson as well? It begins to look like revenge and sounds like the lawyer is doing what lawyers do -- convincing people to sue. The bigger the target, the richer the payback (for the lawyer as well as his client).
Well, this is where the sin of detraction leads as I wrote when I criticized the former parishioner who almost gleefully scooped the story. She could have gone privately to Fr. Aitcheson and urged him to make things right. (That's what the Gospel says to do.) If he had refused, she could have gone to the bishop. (That's what the Gospel says to do.) It might actually have led to a real reconciliation between Fr. Aitcheson and the Butlers. But the story was more important than Christian charity and now things appear to be getting murkier and nastier which is generally the case when a lawsuit-hungry lawyer gets involved. Hey, a nice fat settlement might get Ted Williams a shiny new car. And I suspect the goal isn't a court case which I doubt they can win, but an out-of-court payoff to just get things over with and move on.
|Well documented history of the|
Civil War including many documents,
short biographies of the principals
and a thorough examination of
the issues. Highly recommended.
And, really, criticizing Father for singing Dixie? Please! I play Southern music including, yes, Dixie. Does that make me a racist? Is there certain music now that proves one is guilty of hate and bigotry?
A disturbing element from the latest information which really concerns me is this quote from the Diocese of Arlington's statement. “As this matter involving the Butler family and Fr. Aitcheson has only been resolved recently, plans for his future priestly ministry are still being discerned."
I'm not sure what that means. Is Fr. Aitcheson reluctant to come back? Is the diocese worried about the public reaction of returning Father to ministry? Is the threatened lawsuit impacting the decision? Are the Butlers holding veto power over Father's future? What exactly is "being discerned."
Many saints were public sinners earlier in their lives. If past sins were held against us, who among us could claim to be innocent? I suspect even the Butlers and their lawyer have sins in their past they would rather keep private.
The diocese has said that not once during Father's ministry has he been accused of racism or bigotry. We have black members in our parish as well as a large Hispanic population and I never saw Father, during his time as pastor here, treat anyone with less respect than anyone else. His commitment to Church doctrine and his passionate defense of the right to life speak volumes. (Since abortion especially targets black babies, it's hard to imagine a racist being vehemently opposed to it like Father is. He is one of the few priests I EVER heard preach about it.)
I can personally testify to his care for the people and his compassionate ministry. My mother lived with us the last five months of her life when she was dying of cancer. Father visited her and anointed her. The morning after she died he was knocking on the door to see how we were doing. I'll never know how he knew, since she had died just hours before.
We need Fr. Aitcheson in the pulpit and among the people. And I pray for him daily and for his return to ministry. I also pray for the Butlers and their ability to forgive.
It's interesting to note that both Fr. Aitcheson's letter and the Butlers' press conference occurred on feast days of Mary, the model of humility and compassion. Can anyone imagine Mary withholding mercy from one of her repentant children? I sure can't! I'm offering my rosary this evening for Fr. Bill and for the Butlers. We can expect to receive mercy in the degree we offer it to others.I hope the Butlers think about that.
Our Lady, Mother of Divine Mercy, pray for us.