September 19, 1996
LONDON (AP) -- A Roman Catholic bishop in Scotland who abruptly resigned after disappearing with a woman parishioner has a 15-year-old son by another woman, church officials said Thursday.
They confirmed Joanna Whibley's claim that the Most Rev. Roderick Wright, who was the bishop of Argyll and the Isles, was the father of her son, Kevin.
Miss Whibley said she had expected Wright, 56, to live with her and her son after his resignation, and she was unaware that Wright was apparently involved with another woman.
"The church authorities were made aware of the fact that Roderick Wright was the father of a child known as Kevin Whibley, born in 1981, last Sunday evening,"
Scottish Catholic officials said in a statement.
"This was in fact one of the main reasons given for his resignation and was communicated to the Vatican with his resignation."
Pope John Paul II, who is traveling in France, has accepted the resignation, the Vatican said Thursday.
Wright returned home Monday after dropping from sight for a week, offered his resignation and apologized to his family, fellow clerics and the family of Kathleen Macphee, whom he had been counseling following her divorce.
The Rev. Tom Connolly, spokesman for the Catholic church in Scotland, said the revelation would cause
"an enormous amount of damage" to the church and to church members. "I'm absolutely sure that many, many Catholics will be the butt of jokes and smart talk," Connolly said.
Miss Whibley told the BBC that Wright had instructed her in the Catholic faith, and that a romantic relationship developed after she had moved from Scotland to England.
"I made up my mind that I must unburden myself and put an end to Kevin's feeling that he shouldn't even exist,"
Miss Whibley said in a BBC television and radio interview.
"Although Kevin know it's his dad, I know it's his dad and Roddy knows he's the dad, and though he has been an absent father, Kevin still needs the fact to be known," Miss Whibley said.
Kevin Whibley said he has seen his father for about a total of two months during his life.
Miss Whibley said the bishop
"told me that he would try to make amends for the hurt that he'd caused us, and he would resign and come to live with us and we could try to salvage something."
She said she went public partly to help other women involved with priests.
"I would not want this trivialized, this pathetic story. I would want it to serve some purpose," she said. "I am quite sure there are other women in relationships with priests who would want to end the secret lives."
Cardinal Basil Hume, leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, suggested Tuesday that the celibacy rule for priests could be changed.
Celibacy "is not divine law. It is church law, so any pope or (Catholic Church) general council could change it,"
he said in an BBC radio interview Tuesday.
In France on Thursday, the pope praised the "free choice of celibacy" that priests make.
September 22, 1996
LONDON (AP) -- The Roman Catholic bishop who resigned this week over his affair with a woman parishioner is sharing a home with her and hopes the couple can marry, a Sunday tabloid reported.
In a paid interview with The News of the World, former Bishop of the Scottish diocese of Argyll and the Isles Roderick Wright, 56, also acknowledged his 15-year-old son from a former relationship and apologized for hurting the boy.
Wright's decision to sell his story to one of Britain's more sensationalist newspapers has further shaken Britain's Roman Catholic Church and stoked a growing debate about the church's rule that priests must be celibate.
"Most priests do remain celibate, but a significant minority who cannot sustain the near-impossible have made the Catholic church a by-word for organized hypocrisy," commented The Observer newspaper Sunday.
The News of the World said it tracked Wright and Kathleen Macphee, 41, to as rented cottage in northwest England, where they agreed to talk in return for an undisclosed five-figure sum.
Under the banner Page 1 headline, Runaway Bishop Confesses All, it quoted Wright as saying:
"We look forward when all this is over to rebuilding our lives and our hope is that we will marry."
He gave no indication he will contact Kevin, his son by Joanna Whibley, 48, reported The News of the World, which said the bishop has requested that money for the interview go to Mrs. Macphee's three children.
"I have to recognize Kevin. And I must say I'm sorry for the hurt I've caused him in his life," the newspaper quoted Wright as saying.
"I only wish him happiness. But at this particular time I don't know how I can bring him his happiness."
Church leaders criticized Wright for telling his story for money. He cited physical and spiritual pressures when he resigned Monday after going missing for 10 days.
In a joint statement Saturday, Cardinal Thomas Winning, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, and the Archbishop of St. Andrew's and Edinburgh, Keith O'Brien, said,
"We regard the sale of his story by Roderick Wright as deplorable."
"We are glad to note, however, that he appears to be well."
Kevin Whibley, who has not seen his father for some years, told BBC TV he was angry about the newspaper deal.
"If he's making a profit out of this story, our story, I am so angry about that and if he offers to make payments to us he won't hear the end of it until we have got the money, until I have got the money. It's my money," he said.
In its five-page expose, accompanied by a picture of Wright embracing Mrs. Macphee, The News of the World said the couple are sharing a cottage in the town of Kendal in the Lake District, but are not sleeping together.
"There has been no sexual relationship between us. Kathleen insisted on that," it quoted Wright as saying.
Wright, who first met Mrs. Macphee in 1976, says they became close in 1992, as she fought cervical cancer. She had divorced her builder husband a year before.
As the couple realized they were falling in love, Wright reportedly said,
"I worried secretly about it. It was on my mind and my conscience and I prayed an awful lot." "I knew the feelings I had for Roddy were different from those I'd ever had. If he'd been a plumber or a dustman it would have been easier,"
the newspaper quoted Mrs. Macphee as saying.
Stuart Kuttner, the tabloid's managing editor, said it
"has paid a modest five-figure sum for the exclusive story"
which will go to Mrs. Macphee's children, at the couple's request.