Kiss-and-sell bishop `is like a Judas'

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Serial sexual liaisons may be bad enough, but selling serial rights is beyond the pale.

The full force of the Roman Catholic Church appeared to descend on the runaway bishop yesterday after he sold the story of his love for divorcee Kathleen MacPhee to the News of the World.

Roderick Wright, who gave the interview to the newspaper for a "five- figure" sum, was likened to Judas, and a government minister was even moved to public castigation.

At the end of two weeks of revelations about his two women and son, selling the story was the last straw.

At St Columba's Cathedral, Oban, in the bishop's former Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, the congregation was told by Fr Sean MacAulay: "Like Christ was betrayed by someone in his group for 30 pieces of silver, perhaps we feel similarly betrayed at this moment in time."

Deacon Roddy Johnston said at least one parishioner had referred to the former bishop as "Judas".

Archbishop Keith O'Brien, acting as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese, said he felt "betrayed" that Mr Wright had accepted the "pot of gold".

Even Ann Widdecombe, the Catholic Home Office minister, weighed in, saying it was "not appropriate" for a cleric in his position to sell his story.

In the interview in yesterday's News of the World, Mr Wright, 56, who was pictured with Ms MacPhee, over whom he resigned, at their "hideaway" Lake District cottage, told how he had unsuccessfully fought against his love for her but had failed. He said that their relationship was not sexual but they now wanted to marry .

The former priest, who disappeared again yesterday from the cottage, also spoke of a "very guilty conscience" over his treatment of former girlfriend Joanna Whibley and their 15-year-old son, Kevin. "I apologise to my family and relations and other priests, who have been very deeply hurt by this."

However, his public statements in a newspaper renowned for its "kiss and tell" sex exclusives, angered those who wanted him to give a press conference. Even his justification of giving his "modest" newspaper payment - rumoured to be around pounds 15,000 - to Ms MacPhee's three children was described as "extraordinary".

Archbishop O'Brien said: "It seems to be extraordinary if the money is to go to that woman's [Ms MacPhee's] children when he has a son of 15."

Explaining the level of anger over the interview, he said diocesesan members had grown increasingly upset as they learnt how Mr Wright had had an affair with Ms MacPhee, fathered a son, and "two-timed" Ms Whibley before taking "a pot of gold".

The Archbishop, urging Mr Wright to come to the Church for counselling, also warned him over marrying a divorcee, thus losing the right to take Communion.

Secret liaisons, page 2