The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has endorsed a resolution calling for the creation of an independent commission to “explore the canonical, environment, behavioral and procedural dimensions” of bishops and alcohol abuse.
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has endorsed a resolution calling for the creation of an independent commission to “explore the canonical, environment, behavioral and procedural dimensions of matters involving the serious impairment of individuals serving as leaders in the church, with special attention to issues of addiction and substance abuse.” The 17 March 2015 comes in response to the arrest of the Suffragan Bishop of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Heather Cook, who has been charged with killing a cyclist with her automobile while driving in an intoxicated state. In addition to her criminal trial, Bishop Cook faces an ecclesiastical trial for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy, and for allegedly lying about her problems with alcohol to church leaders. The Bishop of Maryland spoke to the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori about his concerns over Bishop Cook’s drinking. However, the Presiding Bishop did not act upon the allegations of public intoxication, but asked Bishop Cook to speak to her deputy about the matter. A report on the proceedings by the House of Bishops stated: “Recommendations for both action and further review, as appropriate, in order to clarify lines of authority, to ensure mutual accountability, and to promote justice, well-being, and safety within both the church and the world were included.” Bishop Jefferts Schori told the Episcopal News Service the goal of the commission would be to inform the church how it “might better respond both pastorally and ecclesiastically” to its members.