After Heather Cook Indictment, It’s Time for the Episcopal Church to Deal With Clergy Who Have Substance Abuse Issues

substance abuse

Questions remain for the Episcopal Church after the indictment of a bishop in a deadly hit and run.

A grand jury indicted Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook last week on multiple counts for her alleged role in the death of a Baltimore cyclist.

Police say Cook was driving while intoxicated last December when she hit the cyclist. According to police, Cook left the scene of the crime for a period of time before returning. Cook was arrested but was let go pending charges.

Meanwhile, this was not Cook’s first run-in with authorities. In 2010, before she was in her current position with the Episcopal Church, Cook was arrested for DUI, among other things. Recently, published reports indicate that Cook was drunk before her installation as bishop.

Jeffrey Walton with The Institute on Religion & Democracy comments that this isn’t the first problem with addiction the Episcopal Church has experienced.

“To be candid, the Episcopal Church has a long history of officials who have had difficulties with substance abuse,” he says. “Unfortunately, it is something that has been a problem for quite a while. The question is: Does the diocese have in place policies that deal with both the problem of addictions and then treatment and accountability for overcoming those addictions?”

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Chris Woodward

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