Virginia bishops respond to Cook indictment

Bishops call for “substantive and pressing conversations” in light of the Cook arrest

The news today from the Diocese of Maryland is sad and painful. A bishop suffragan of the Church, the Rt. Rev. Heather Cook, will be charged with manslaughter in the death of Thomas Palermo, a 41-year-old bicyclist and father of two small children. Bishop Cook also faces other charges, including leaving the scene of a fatal accident, driving under the influence and causing an accident by texting while driving.

Many important issues are raised by this tragic situation. Deeply substantive and pressing conversations within the Church and the broader community lie ahead. But our prayerful focus today is on Mr. Palermo, his family and his friends. Indeed, we pray for all those whose lives have been or will be impacted by these events.

We commend Bishop Eugene Sutton for the leadership and forthright transparency he has displayed from the very beginning of this tragedy. Our entire staff stands in solidarity with the staff of the Diocese of Maryland. Moreover, we are mindful of our calling to keep Bishop Cook in our prayers. We know this news will impact the hearts and minds of every person in that diocese.

Together with our Diocese, we will work to help the broader Church find its witness in a meaningful way. We pray that justice will be served. And we will continue to pray that all those troubled, angered, frustrated or in despair will experience the healing power of God. 

The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, Bishop

The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff, Bishop Suffragan

The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick Jr., Assistant Bishop

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