September 20, 1996
GLASGOW, Scotland -- Leaders of Scotland's Roman Catholic Church, angered by a wayward bishop, expressed sympathy Friday for a woman who had a son with the priest and shared his secret for 15 years.
Senior church officials called on Roderick Wright, the 56-year-old former Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, to come out of hiding.
Wright dropped out of sight 11 days ago, apparently with a woman named Kathleen Macphee whom he had counseled after her divorce. He resigned on Monday.
Another woman, 48-year-old Joanna Whibley, told the BBC on Thursday that Wright had fathered her 15-year-old son, Kevin.
The Scottish Catholic Church confirmed that Wright was the boy's father.
"This was in fact one of the main reasons given for his resignation," it confirmed in a statement.
"I weep for the mother and child and the way in which they have been treated, but I have been so duped by the events of the last few days that I don't know what to believe any more,"
Cardinal Thomas Winning, leader of Scotland's Catholics, said in an interview published Friday in The Herald newspaper.
Fellow priests expressed feelings of betrayal at Wright's disappearance, possibly with Ms. Macphee.
The cardinal said he and Archbishop Keith O'Brien had confronted the bishop three years ago over rumors of a liaison.
"We received a categorical denial and a guarantee not only was it untrue but it was scurrilous," Winning said.
Winning said that because of the denial, he felt "doubly abandoned" by the bishop.
"We really took him at his word," said Archbishop O'Brien, of St. Andrew's and Edinburgh. "That is why we have been particularly shattered by events."
At St. Columba's Cathedral in Oban, which had been Wright's seat, the Rev. Sean MacAulay spoke of "sorrow and shock" as he conducted a morning service.
"Our hearts are going hither and thither between anger and forgiveness, but the message of the Gospel is that forgiveness is unquantifiable and we extend our forgiveness to the families involved and the ex-bishop,"
MacAulay told a congregation of about 50 people. Wright, he later said, was
"a very good man, a very kind man."
"He must have suffered hell himself for years with this on his conscience. ... He's done his purgatory on this earth."